Somerset County Government - Somerset, PA
Register of Wills & Clerk of Orphans' Court

Organizational Description
This office is the only multiple office within the county. It is actually comprised of two separate offices: Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans’ Court.

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 opinions and 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 receipts and documentation.

These two offices are the only repository for certain historically significant and original court records pertaining to decedent’s estates (1795-present), birth and death certificates (1893-1905), marriage license applications (1885-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.

Mission Statement
The Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans’ Court espouses a mission to ensure the highest degree of accuracy, accessibility, and preservation of historically valuable, original court documents for the constituency we serve.

Register of Wills Division
The Register of Wills processes all resident decedents’ estates and inheritance tax receipting and documentation for individuals who are domiciled in Somerset County at the time of their death. The primary function of the Register is to determine whether the document offered for probate should b e 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.

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 case files for accounts (estate, trust, guardian), adoptions, appeals, claims against estates, guardianships, minors’ estates, small estate proceedings, trusts, wrongful death actions, as well as sundry other miscellaneous filings.

Orphans’ Court division is also responsible for taking marriage applications and issuing licenses for couples who wish to be married in Pennsylvania. Historical birth and death records prior to 1906 are also available from the Orphans’ Court Division.


111 East Union Street
Suite 145
Somerset, PA 15501
Phone: (814) 445-1548
Fax: (814) 445-1542

Register of Wills
Sharon Ackerman

Hours of Operation:
Except on Legal Hoildays

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 any questions concerning legality, please contact an attorney.

- Inheritance Tax
- Register of Wills Terminology

Downloadable Documents
- ADA Grievance Procedure
- ADA Request Policy
- Language Access Plan
- Language Access Plan - Complaint Procedure
- Language Access Plan - Spanish
- Small Estate Affidavit Revised Feb 2017

Downloadable Forms
- Interactive ADA Grievance Procedure
- Interactive ADA Request Policy

FAQ, Fee Schedule, & Forms
- 2018 Schedule For Presentation
- Fee Schedule (Effective 11/30/2017)
- Forms
- General Frequently Asked Questions
- Information Request Form
- Orphan's Court Fee Schedule
- Petition for Three Day Waiver

- Accounts
- Adoptions
- Guardianships
- Marriage License

Pages of Interest
- Orphan Court Books
- PA Bureau of Vital Records
- PA Department of Health
- PA Inheritance Tax Department
- Rules of Court
- Will Books

Register of Wills
- Disclaimer Of Liability
- Estates
- Genealogy Resources
- Presentation of Accounts
- The Difference a Will Makes
County Annex Office Building
300 North Center Avenue
Somerset, PA 15501
Somerset County Courthouse
111 East Union St.
Somerset, PA 15501