In today’s mobile society, it not uncommon for the Personal Representative to live out-of-state. If the proposed Personal Representative of the Decedent’s Estate lives outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and this person wishes to be appointed without traveling to the Office of the Register of Wills in the county where the Decedent lived, then this can be accomplished in most instances through the use of a legal procedure called a “special commission”. In this circumstance, certain legal documents are filed in the Decedent’s local Register’s office. The Register’s office will then forward these documents to the Register of Wills Office in the county where the proposed Personal Representative lives. Thereafter, the proposed Personal Representative can complete the paperwork in their local Register’s office, thereby avoiding travel to Pennsylvania. There may be additional fees for the “special commission,” but in most instances, these fees will be much less than the cost of traveling to the Decedent’s local Register’s Office.
Do keep in mind that in some situations the Register may require an out-of-state Personal Representative to obtain a bond before the Register will qualify the Personal Representative to act.
Out-of-state Personal Representatives are encouraged to work with a local attorney who is familiar with the probate laws of Pennsylvania and who can assist with the probate process. This is especially true when the Decedent owned a home or other physical assets that are located in the Commonwealth. And an attorney can help the Personal Representative to avoid making mistakes during the administration process, some of which can subject the Personal Representative to personal liability. Additionally, local counsel can find the right real estate agent, which may help to maximize the sale price of the real estate that the Estate owns. Likewise, an attorney can direct you to specialized companies to sell the decedent’s personal items which may also increase the sale price for these items. This is especially true where the Decedent owned high value personal items, such as antiques, art work, and other specialty objects.