Wayne County Courthouse Annex
925 Court St
Honesdale PA 18431-1996
Phone: (570) 253-5970 Ext. 4040
Register of Wills
Debbie Bates – Chief Deputy
The Register of Wills is the officer responsible for maintaining the records relating to the probate of will and the granting of letters of administration and testamentary, Acting as the Commonwealth’s agent the register is also responsible for collecting State inheritance taxes.
The Register of Wills is the custodian of the records relating to probate including wills and letters of administration; estate inventories; inheritance tax records; administrator, bonds; executor and administrator oaths; and various kinds of reports. This officer is also authorized to issue subpoenas and citations and has the power to revoke letters of administration.
The Register of Wills office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM However no probates will be accepted after 4:00 PM.
The Register of Wills has jurisdiction over the probate of wills and granting of letters.
A will is a written document, which directs the manner of distribution of anything owned at death by the writer of the will. It should name an executor whose job is to probate or record the will after death and carry out its instructions. Making a will is one of the most important things a person does.
To make a will in Pennsylvania, the person making the will must be of sound mind and 18 years of age or older. Everyone, whether wealthy or of modest means, should have a will. This guarantees that your lifetime accumulations are given to those persons or institutions whom you wish to benefit.
In Pennsylvania there is no requirement that a will be witnessed when it is signed. But a lawyer will generally provide for two witnesses to prove the signature of the deceased when the will is offered to the Register of Wills for probate after death. An alternate method is to have the signature notarized.
A husband and wife is entitled by law to a portion of the estate of the dying spouse. For this reason, a will drawn before marriage should be rewritten after the ceremony.
Bank accounts, real estate, stocks bond and other property held in the joint names of husband and wife pass automatically to the survivor upon the death of one of them. This fact does not mean, however, that they do not need separate wills.
Contrary to what some believe, a will does not get recorded in Pennsylvania during the lifetime of the maker. It is recorded or probated by the Register of Wills only after death occurs. This permits the maker to change or rewrite his will as circumstances require and to keep its term confidential during his lifetime. After a will has been presented to the Register of Wills for probate it then becomes public record.
Pennsylvania law controls the distribution of an estate when there is no will. The law does not take into consideration the special needs of any individual or family where the one dying has left no will. For example, in the case of many dying intestate, a close personal friend, who is not a relative, is not recognized by law and would not receive anything. Furthermore in the absence of a will the Register of Wills must appoint an administrator who may have to post bond, which causes additional expense in the settlement of the estate.
The Register of Wills collects the Inheritance Tax for the State. If the tax is paid within 3 months of the date of death the estate gets a 5% abatement. The tax is at par for 9 months from the date of death and after 9 months penalty must be paid.
Office of the Register of Wills
Wayne County, Pennsylvania
Effective January 1, 2009 Act 69, 1993
Letters of Administration or Testamentary
|Estates not exceeding $1,000.00||20.00|
|$1,000.00 to 5,000||30.00|
|$5000 to 10,000||40.00|
|$10,000 to 20,000||50.00|
|$20,000 to 30,000||60.00|
|$30,000 to 40,000||70.00|
|$40,000 to 50,000||80.00|
|$50,000 to 75,000||90.00|
|$75,000 to 100,000||100.00|
|Each additional $100.000 or fraction thereof||30.00|
|Commissions to take oath||10.00|
|Codicil, first page||12.00|
|Each additional page||2.00|
|Family Settlement Agreement||20.00|
|Filing Bond where required||10.00|
|Filing Certified or Exemplified copies Estates (first page)||20.00|
|Each page other than the first||3.00|
|Filing Certification of Inheritance Tax (paid in another County)||10.00|
|Inventory Debts & Deductions||10.00|
|Inheritance Tax Return||10.00|
|Issuing certified copies of instruments||10.00|
|Each additional page||3.00|
|Issuing exemplified copies of instruments (first page)||15.00|
|Each additional page||5.00|
|Probate of Will, first page||10.00|
|Each additional page||2.00|
|Releases & Disclaimers||3.00|
|Tax Waivers, per set||5.00|
|JCS charge on all estates opened||23.50|