Pennsylvania Statutes Title 20 Pa.C.S.A. Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries § 3546. Determination of title to decedent's interest in real estate

(a) Applicability.--This section shall apply if:

(1) A person dies leaving an interest in real estate within this Commonwealth.

(2) Either of the following occurs:

(i) No letters testamentary or letters of administration have been granted on the estate of the decedent in this Commonwealth and one year has expired since the decedent's death.

(ii) A personal representative has been appointed but has not filed an account within six years of the decedent's death.

(3) There is a conflict between this section and either section 2103(6) (relating to shares of others than surviving spouse) or Article XIII.1 of the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L. 343, No. 176),   1 known as The Fiscal Code, with respect to a petition by an entity under subsection (c)(2).  The rights granted under this section shall supersede any right of the Commonwealth created under section 2103(6) or Article XIII.1 of The Fiscal Code.

(b) Subject of petition.--A person or entity authorized by subsection (c) may present a petition under this section to:

(1) terminate an interest in the real estate of other heirs or devisees of the decedent who, after being given proper notice under subsection (f);  or

(2) have declared as void, unenforceable and canceled of record a fraudulent conveyance of the decedent's interest in the real estate and to the extent otherwise authorized by law any lien, title, claim or interest arising in the property by, from or under the fraudulent conveyance, including any subsequent transfers of property following the fraudulent conveyance and any liens to the extent that they have attached to the property as a result of the fraudulent conveyance, after all interested parties have been given proper notice under subsection (f).

(c) Who may petition.--The following persons and entities may petition to establish title to the decedent's real estate:

(1) A person claiming an interest in the real estate:

(i) as an heir or devisee of the decedent;

(ii) through the decedent;  or

(iii) through an heir or devisee of the decedent, when the heir or devisee is deceased or has conveyed all or part of the heir or devisee's interest in the property to the person.

(2) A nonprofit corporation organized for community development purposes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 ( Public Law 99-514 , 26 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. ), a municipality in which the real estate is located or a redevelopment authority created and organized under the act of May 24, 1945 (P.L. 991, No. 385),   2 known as the Urban Redevelopment Law, having jurisdiction in the municipality in which the real estate is located upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence to the court that:

(i) No heirs or devisees exist or have taken action with respect to the real estate for at least five years since the decedent's death.

(ii) The real estate is not occupied by a person claiming rights by adverse possession.

(d) Priority of petitions.--Where there are two or more petitions for the same real estate under subsection (c)(2), the court shall give priority in entering its order to one of the petitioners in the following order:

(1) The municipality.

(2) The redevelopment authority.

(3) The nonprofit corporation.

(e) Where to petition.--A petition under this section shall be filed in the orphans' court division of the county where:

(1) the letters testamentary or letters of administration have been granted;

(2) the principal residence of the decedent was located, if no letters testamentary or letters of administration have been granted;  or

(3) any of the real estate is located, if the decedent was a nonresident of this Commonwealth.

(f) Notice of petition.--

(1) Notice shall be given to all persons reasonably identifiable as eligible to file a petition under subsection (c), creditors that do not have liens of record, to the extent known, and all other persons and parties in interest reasonably known to hold or claim a lien, title, claim or other interest in the property in accordance with the Pennsylvania Orphans' Court Rules.  3  Notice shall also be given by:

(i) publication once a week during three successive calendar weeks in the legal periodical, if any, and in a newspaper of general circulation published at or near the location of the real estate;

(ii) posting a copy of the petition on the most public part of the property;  and

(iii) such other methods, if any, as the court deems appropriate to give notice.

(2) If letters testamentary or letters of administration have been granted on the estate of the decedent, notice of the petition under this section shall be given to the personal representative of the decedent.

(3) A lis pendens notice shall be given in each county where the real estate is located in the same manner and place as provided in section 3390 (relating to specific performance of contracts) for an action of specific performance.

(g) Order.--

(1) Aided if necessary by the report of a master, the court may enter an order adjudging that the title to the decedent's interest in the real estate is in the petitioner, free of all decedent's debts not then liens of record, and regardless of the provisions of any testamentary writing of the decedent thereafter probated, or an order directing other appropriate relief as the court determines.

(2) A certified copy of the order shall be:

(i) Recorded in the office of the recorder of deeds of each county where real estate included in the decree or order shall lie.

(ii) Indexed by the recorder in the grantor's index under the name of the decedent and in the grantee's index under the name of each distributee.

(iii) Registered in the survey bureau or with the proper authorities empowered to keep a register of real estate in the county.

(iv) Served by the petitioner upon each party who has entered an appearance in the proceeding.

(h) Parcel number or identifier.--

(1) A petition filed under subsection (b) and notice of petition given under subsection (f) shall include the county tax parcel number or Uniform Parcel Identifier for each parcel included.  A party alleging any failure to comply with the requirements of this paragraph must do so in the manner provided for raising an affirmative defense.

(2) An order presented for recording under subsection (g) shall comply with section 3 of the act of April 24, 1931 (P.L. 48, No. 40),   4 entitled “An act requiring the recording of certain written agreements pertaining to real property, and prescribing the effect thereof as to subsequent purchasers, mortgagees, and judgment creditors of the parties thereto.”

(i) Definition.--For the purposes of this section, “fraudulent conveyance” shall mean a transfer of an interest, lien, title or claim in real estate that occurs as a result of:

(1) a forgery of the grantor's signature on a document purporting to make such transfer;

(2) the grantor being induced by fraud, misrepresentation, duress or coercion to sign a document purporting to make such transfer;  or

(3) some other inappropriate means used to obtain the grantor's signature on the document purporting to make such transfer, as determined by a court.

1 72 P.S. § 1301.1 et seq.
2 35 P.S. § 1701 et seq.
3 Pa.O.C.Rules, Rule 3.1 et seq.
4 21 P.S. § 358.

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