Bucks Writs - Summer 2017 - 17

Rule 5.1 expressly allows the filing of a petition for
declaratory judgment in the Orphans' Court.

Stay alert and read your rules, but
know that we are inching towards
a more modern court system
where practice from county to
county will be more uniform.

Pursuant to Rule 7.1 and Bucks Rule 7.1A, discovery in the
Bucks County Orphans' Court continues to require either
agreement of the parties or leave of court on petition upon
cause shown. The practice thereafter is governed by the
state and local rules of civil procedure.
Critically, no exceptions or post-trial motions may be filed to
final orders by the Orphans' Court, although timely motions
for reconsideration, except in the cases of involuntary
termination of parental rights or adoption, may be filed,
without tolling the appeal period. A copy of the motion for
reconsideration must be provided to the court.

First, use of the Supreme Court's forms is mandatory for
petitions for adjudication, all pleadings before the Register
of Wills, and guardianship annual reports. You may find
these forms on the Bucks Register's/Clerk's website.
Next, accounting and audit procedure is quite different.
A petition for adjudication must be filed concurrently
with a formal account for audit. You may no longer wait
to prepare and present the petition at the time of audit
before the Court. Also, the rules now clarify that at least
20 days' notice of the audit must be mailed by first class
mail in counties with a separate Orphans' Court Division,
such as Bucks. The old Bucks rules only required a 10-day
notice, and many believed that notice by certified mail
was required. No longer need we worry about collecting
green cards or about delays caused by unclaimed certified
mail. The notice of the audit must be given to all claimants
and parties in interest, such as beneficiaries, unless their
interests already have been satisfied in full (e.g., beneficiaries of paid pecuniary bequests need not be given notice
of the audit). The precise content of the audit notice is
contained in Rule 2.5(h). Verified objections to the account
must be filed by the time of the audit, with notice given
to all interested parties. Within 20 days after service of
the objections to the account, answers may be, but are
not required to be, filed to the objections, and preliminary
objections, limited to lack of subject matter jurisdiction and
standing, may be filed, as well. An answer may then be
filed to the preliminary objections.

Finally, Register of Wills hearings are now governed by the
Rules of Evidence.
So, stay alert and read your rules, but know that we are
inching towards a more modern court system where
practice from county to county will be more uniform. Be
aware, too, that movement toward sweeping changes to
guardianship and adoption practice statewide is afoot.
Change is a good thing! 

As a BCBA member you
are eligible to join and


he new Chapter III of the Rules brings Orphans' Court
pleading practice substantially into line with civil
practice. The Rules follow civil practice and expressly
allow for preliminary objections, answers, and new matters
and specifically address the consequences of failing properly
to plead. Rule 3.5 helpfully spells out the difference
between proceedings where a Citation is required to obtain
jurisdiction over necessary parties and where only notice
is required. Even better, where all parties are petitioners or
have filed joinders or consent to the petition, no citation
nor notice is required.

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ISSUE: 1708
ORG/PUB: Bucks Writs


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Bucks Writs - Summer 2017

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