Our “Ask a Question” mailbag address the question of how and where does one contest a will.
“I may contest my father’s Will. He died recently in Philadelphia. How do I contest a Will in Philadelphia? Who will hear the case?”
First, Determine if You are an Interested Party.
A Will Contest is serious litigation. It begins with a Petition, but will likely end with a hearing that may take place well over a year in the future. To start, you must be an interested party. In simple terms, you are an interested party if the Will challenged diminishes your inheritance. Or, in other terms, if a judge finds the Will invalid, your inheritance increases. Therefore, if the Will in question reduces your inheritance from your father’s prior Will, you are an interested party. If not, the court will dismiss your challenge.
Where do I file a Petition to Challenge a Will?
If you plan to contest a Will in Pennsylvania, we will file the Petition to start the process with the Orphans’ Court of the county in which the deceased resided. For example, if the deceased person was a resident of Montgomery County, we file the Will with the Montgomery County Register of Wills. As a result, we appeal the Will’s validity from the Register’s office, and a Montgomery County Orphans’ Court judge hears the case.
The Venue for Your Will Contest is the Philadelphia County Orphans’ Court.
Owing to your father’s Philadelphia residency, the Will in question should reside with the Philadelphia Register of Wills. Under these circumstances, we appeal from the Register’s office and a Philadelphia Orphans’ Court judge will hear the case. In conclusion, a Will Challenge is serious litigation. Consequently, do not lightly enter into a Will Contest. Let’s speak about your situation and plan your course of action. Feel free to contact our office to set up a free consultation.
Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation It’s All We Do!
Peter Klenk, Esq., LL.M.