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Effective Representation in Orphans’ Court Litigation

The Orphans’ Court is a division of the Court of Common Pleas. The Orphans’ Court oversees the administration of decedents’ estates, the administration and distribution of testamentary and inter vivos trusts, the handling of matters relating to the custodianship and property of minors, the actions of agents operating under powers of attorneys, and the supervision of the estates and persons of incapacitated persons. Oftentimes, lawyers must petition the Orphans’ Court to resolve disputes arising between beneficiaries and fiduciaries.

Do you need to speak with an attorney regarding a dispute involving an estate or trust or concerning an incapacitated person? Please contact Sikov and Love, P.A., to arrange your consultation. Since our founding in 1952, we have set a standard for quality legal services.

The Orphans’ Court has jurisdiction over matters involving estates, trusts, minors and incapacitated persons. Conflicts can arise between beneficiaries and fiduciaries who are often family members.

Removal of Fiduciaries or Personal Representatives

When a beneficiary of an estate or a trust feels that an executor or a trustee is wasting or mismanaging assets, sometimes removal of the executor or the trustee is the only way to prevent funds from being further dissipated by the fiduciary. Under the Pennsylvania Probate, Estates, and Fiduciaries Code, the Orphans’ Court oversees various issues including the appointment of fiduciaries (executors or administrators of estates), the control of funds in estates, the settlement of accounts, and the removal and discharge of fiduciaries.

Actions against agents under powers of attorney

  • Objections to inventories and accounts — A beneficiary or other person having a direct interest in either a decedent’s estate or a guardianship estate may raise objections to the actions of the personal representative for improper distributions, for misinterpretation of a provision of a will or a trust or may file objections to excess administration fees.
  • Surcharge litigation — When a fiduciary breaches his or her duty to a beneficiary, one potential remedy of the breach is a surcharge action against the fiduciary. The purpose of a surcharge is to restore the losses sustained by an estate as a result of the fiduciary’s breach of duty.
  • Disputes involving incapacitated persons – If a person becomes incapacitated and has not planned ahead by the preparation of and execution of a power of attorney, a guardianship action may be necessary. Unfortunately, disputes arise between family members as to who the guardian of the incapacitated person should be; this must be decided by the Orphans’ Court.
  • Questions of interpretation of words in wills or trusts — These issues can include will contests, lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, and allegations of fraud or forgery.

Contact Sikov and Love, P.A., today to learn how we can help you and your family.