The Register of Wills processes all resident decedents’ estates and inheritance tax receipting and documentation for individuals who are domiciled in Washington 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 decisions on disputable estate matters prior to opening the official record. These decisions, once rendered, may only be appealed for specific reasons to the Orphans’ Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas.

Register of Wills Terminology:

  • Probate: Procedure by which a document alleged to be a will is established judicially as a valid testamentary disposition.
  • Will: A legal declaration of how a person wishes his or her possessions to be disposed of after death.
  • Intestate: Decedent dies without a will.
  • Testate: Decedent dies with a will.
  • Estate: The whole of property, real or personal, owned by any person.
  • Non-probate asset: This type of property will pass by operation of law such as Life Insurance proceeds and joint accounts.
  • Fiduciary:  Owes highest duty of care to be loyal to estate.
  • Beneficiary: The recipient of funds, property or other benefits from an insurance policy, trust or will.
  • Decedent: The deceased person.
  • Testator: The maker of a will when a man. Testatrix: The maker of a will when a female.
  • Executor: A man named in the decedent’s will to serve as personal representative and carry out the provisions of the will.
  • Executrix: A female named in the decedent’s will to serve as personal representative and carry out the provisions of the will.
  • Bequest: A gift of personal property, other than money, through a will.
  • Legacy: A gift of money through a will.
  • Devise: A gift of real property through a will.
  • Codicil: A supplement or addition to a will that may modify or revoke provisions in the will but does not cancel the will.

  1. Professional Picture

    James Roman


  2. Register of Wills

    Physical Address
    100 W Beau Street
    Suite 102
    Washington, PA 15301