The Register of Wills is responsible for probating wills and granting letters of administration in cases where persons die without leaving a will ("intestate"). 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 a persons dying intestate, close personal friends, who are not relatives, are not recognized by law and would receive nothing. In the absence of a will the Register of Wills must also appoint an administrator who may have to post bond, which causes additional expense in the settlement of the estate.
The Register has jurisdiction over and maintains records of wills, inventory of estates, and other miscellaneous documents. The Register also serves as an agent for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for filing and payment of Inheritance Taxes. 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.