Comments to Proposed Amendment to Pa.O.C. Rule 10.5(a)

The following comments have been submitted to the Orphans’ Court Procedural Rules Committee on the proposed rule change for notice by successor personal representatives.

March 26, 2021

Pamela S. Walker, Counsel
Orphans’ Court Procedural Rules Committee
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Judicial Center
PO Box 62635
Harrisburg, PA 17106-2635

Via Email

Re: Proposed Amendment of Rule 10.5 of the Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Rules, 51 Pa.B. 1651 (3/27/2021)

Dear Ms. Walker:

I agree with the general principle that a notice of estate administration should be given to interested parties when there is a change in personal representatives, just as a notice to current trust beneficiaries is required under 20 Pa.C.S. § 7780.3(g) whenever there is a change in trustees, but I think that there are two weaknesses in the proposed change to Rule 10.5(a).

The first weakness is that the proposed reference to “a personal representative to whom letters have been granted” and the reference in the amended note to “all personal representatives” when taken together would suggest that, when two personal representatives are granted letters, both must give notice. That would be unnecessary, and I think that the problem is in the wording of the note and not the wording of the rule itself.

The other weakness is that there can be a change in personal representatives without a grant of letters. For example, it is possible for letters to be granted to two persons and for one of them to die during the administration of the estate, leaving the survivor to serve as sole personal representative. While there is currently no rule or statute allowing the resignation of a personal representative, it may be possible for a will to allow the resignation of a co-executor. Regardless of how it might happen, I think the loss of a personal representative is also worthy of a notice to interested parties, just as the loss of a co-trustee would require notice under § 7780.3(g).

My final comment is that the phrase “to whom letters have been granted” seems superfluous because a personal representative is necessarily a person to whom letters have been granted.

I would therefore suggest the following changes in the wording of the rule and the note:

  • Rule 10.5(a) should be amended to read, “Within three (3) months after [the] a grant of letters, and whenever there is a change in personal representatives, [the] a personal representative [to whom original letters have been granted] or the personal representative’s counsel shall send a written notice of estate administration in the form approved by the Supreme Court to:”
  • The note should be amended to read “Subparagraph (a) applies to an original grant of letters and to all changes in personal representatives, including a grant of letters to a successor personal representative and the death of a personal representative when there are other personal representatives who continue to serve.”

Thank you for your consideration of these comments and suggestions.

Sincerely yours,
Daniel B. Evans

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