TN 6 (02-09)
GN 02315.076 Pennsylvania — Small Estates
A. Policy — no formal administration
1. Pennsylvania basic statute
The Pennsylvania small estate statute, 20 PA. CODE ANN. § 3102, provides with respect to estates which do not have a value in excess of $25,000 (excluding certain items), that the orphan's court of the county wherein the decedent was domiciled may, on the petition of any party in interest, direct the distribution of the assets of the decedent's estate without formal administration proceedings. This procedure is available whether the decedent died testate or intestate and without regard to whether a will had been probated or letters of administration issued.
2. Distribution of property
The “decree of distribution” which is entered by the court pursuant to this statute directs distribution of the property to the named parties entitled thereto. Such decree constitutes authority for any individual holding property of the estate to recognize the persons named therein and entitled to receive the property to be distributed without administration. Accordingly, if a decree is entered relative to the estate of a deceased beneficiary and the underpayment is listed among the assets to be distributed pursuant to the decree, SSA discharges its liabilities to the estate by making payment of such underpayment to the person or persons entitled thereto as specified in the decree.
3. Pennsylvania good acquittance
The decree will usually list each item of property which is to be distributed, and if more than one person is entitled to share therein, the decree will make a specific distribution of each item in the estate to a named distributee. In the case of multiple distributees, SSA is assured of good acquittance if the underpayment was paid to the person denominated in the decree as entitled to receive such payment. If a distributee other than the person so named should attempt to claim the underpayment, he or she should be advised that SSA will honor a claim by the individual who is named in the decree as the distributee of the underpayment.
B. Procedure — Pennsylvania underpayments
To support his or her claim to the underpayment as a legal representative of the estate by virtue of rights conferred on him or her under the above statute, have the claimant present a certified copy of the decree entered by the orphan's court of the county wherein the decedent was domiciled at the time of his death. Pay underpayment based on the decree. Retain the certified copy if possible, as evidence that the underpayment was paid in accordance with the foregoing authority. If, however, the claimant requests the return of the certified copy, prepare a photocopy for the files.