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Recent Superior Court Decision Underscores Difficulty and Need for Caution When Determining Appealability of Orphans’ Court Orders

On March 24, 2015 by Schnader

For several years, Pennsylvania judges, lawyers, and (even) rulemakers have struggled to define when an order entered in an Orphans’ Court proceeding is immediately appealable. The issue, of course, is critical, because failure to take a timely appeal from such an order may forfeit all appellate rights, and (assuming that was not the party’s intent) such a failure may then lead to a malpractice action against the party’s lawyer. Defining an appealable Orphans’ Court order thus requires clear rules.

After abandoning several other approaches to this issue, the Supreme Court in 2012 promulgated amendments to Rule 342 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure that sought to provide such clarity by broadly listing types of Orphans’ Court orders that are immediately appealable. A recent Superior Court decision demonstrates, however, that defining an appealable Orphans’ Court order remains a matter of some difficulty.

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