The Register of Wills & Clerk of Orphans' Court offices are actually two separate and distinct offices within the Court of Common Pleas. They are the only multiple offices held by one official within the county.
While each of these offices serves as an agent for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is the Register of Wills alone who holds the distinction of being the only 'row' officer with quasi-judicial powers to conduct hearings and render legal opinions, orders. The Register of Wills is responsible for the probate and administration of resident decedents' estates as well as the processing of all Inheritance Tax payments, receipting, documentation. The Clerk of Orphans' Court acts as the chief records manager of the miscellaneous division of the Common Pleas Court and is responsible for processing court filings, orders.
These two offices are the only repository for certain historically significant and original court records pertaining to decedents' estates (1800-present), birth/death certificates (1893-1905), marriage license applications (1855-present), guardianships/incapacity, minors' estates, court accounts & estate distributions, trusts, cemetery/organizational trusts, real estate partitions, together with other miscellaneous court proceedings.
Records housed in these offices provide specific information required to clear title abstracts to local real estate parcels & for genealogical research. They are irreplaceable in their original format, making the efficacy and accuracy of these offices essential to ensure their preservation and future access.
The Register of Wills & Clerk of Orphans' Court espouses a mission to ensure the highest degree of accuracy, accessibility, & preservation of historically valuable, original court documents for the diverse constituency we serve.
Register of Wills Division
The Register of Wills processes all resident decedents' estate proceedings, Inheritance Tax payments, receipting, and documentation for those decedents legally domiciled in Butler County at the time of their death. The primary function of the Register is to determine whether the document offered for probate should be admitted to the official record. It is the Register of Wills alone who has the authority to appoint personal representatives for estate administration. With quasi-judicial powers, the Register can conduct evidentiary hearings, take testimony, and render legal opinions, decisions on disputable estate matters prior to the official opening of a probate proceeding. Those decisions, once rendered, may only be appealed for specific reasons to the Orphans' Court Division of the Common Pleas Court.
Clerk of Orphans' Court Division
The Clerk of Orphans' Court serves as the chief records manager of the miscellaneous division of the Common Pleas Court. As such, she is responsible for the accuracy and complete maintenance of all filings in cases for court accounts (estate, trust, guardian, minor), adoptions (domestic and foreign), appeals, claims against estates, guardianships (incapacitated, minors), minors' estates, small estate proceedings, trusts, wrongful death actions, as well as sundry other miscellaneous petitions and filings.
Orphans' Court division is also responsible for taking marriage applications and issuing licenses to couples who have met all legal requisites and wish to be married in PA. Historical birth and death records prior to 1906 are also available from the Orphans' Court division.
*** The purpose of the information listed on this website is to be helpful to those who have questions. Please note that absolutely NO information hosted for the Register of Wills or Clerk of Orphans' Court should be used as legal advice. Personnel are not permitted to give ANY legal advice. If you have a question concerning legality please contact an attorney.***