Rejected Petition Not Appealable

When a petition for letters is rejected by the Register of Wills and the Orphans’ Court refuses to grant letters, the finding by the court that the petitioner is not entitled to letters is not an appealable order because there was no action by the Register from which to appeal. In re Estate of Thomas Wisniewski, 2022 PA Super 144, ___ A.3d ___ (8/22/2022).

[DBE Note: Although the Superior Court was clear that that the Orphans’ Court could not “clothe itself with jurisdiction by ordering backdated docketing of an unfiled petition and then deeming that petition denied” by the Register, the Superior Court never explained what the petitioner should have done after the Register refused to accept the petition for letters. Was the problem merely that the Orphans’ Court never held a hearing to determine whether the Register had in fact rejected the petition? Or was the problem that there was no record by the Register of any petition and so no “action” of the Register to appeal? If the problem was the latter, and the filing with the Register is a jurisdictional requisite for an appeal to the Orphans’ Court, what is the remedy if the Register refuses to accept and act on a petition? Petition for writ of mandamus against the Register?]

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