Home Table of Contents

§ 3101. Payments to family and funeral directors

Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated StatutesTitle 20 Pa.C.S.A. Decedents, Estates and FiduciariesEffective: September 3, 2013

Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated Statutes
Title 20 Pa.C.S.A. Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries (Refs & Annos)
Chapter 31. Dispositions Independent of Letters; Family Exemption; Probate of Wills and Grant of Letters
Subchapter A. Dispositions Independent of Letters
Effective: September 3, 2013
20 Pa.C.S.A. § 3101
§ 3101. Payments to family and funeral directors
(a) Wages, salary or employee benefits.--Any employer of a person dying domiciled in this Commonwealth at any time after the death of the employee, whether or not a personal representative has been appointed, may pay wages, salary or any employee benefits due the deceased in an amount not exceeding $5,000 to the spouse, any child, the father or mother, or any sister or brother (preference being given in the order named) of the deceased employee. Any employer making such a payment shall be released to the same extent as if payment had been made to a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and he shall not be required to see to the application thereof. Any person to whom payment is made shall be answerable therefor to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution.
(b) Deposit account.--Any bank, savings association, savings and loan association, building and loan association, credit union or other savings organization, at any time after the death of a depositor, member or certificate holder, shall pay the amount on deposit or represented by the certificate, when the total standing to the credit of the decedent in that institution does not exceed $10,000, to the spouse, any child, the father or mother or any sister or brother (preference being given in the order named) of the deceased depositor, member or certificate holder, provided that a receipted funeral bill or an affidavit, executed by a licensed funeral director which sets forth that satisfactory arrangements for payment of funeral services have been made, is presented. Any bank, association, credit union or other savings organization making such a payment shall be released to the same extent as if payment had been made to a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and it shall not be required to see to the application thereof. Any person to whom payment is made shall be answerable therefor to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution.
(c) Patient's care account.--When the decedent was a qualified recipient of medical assistance from the Department of Public Welfare,1 the facility in which he was a patient may make payment of funds, if any, remaining in the patient's care account, for the decedent's burial expenses to a licensed funeral director in an amount not exceeding $10,000 whether or not a personal representative has been appointed. After the payment of decedent's burial expenses, the facility may pay the balance of decedent's patient's care account, as long as the payments, including the payment for burial expenses, does not exceed $10,000, to the spouse, any child, the father or mother or any sister or brother (preference being given in the order named) of the deceased patient. Any facility making such a payment shall be released to the same extent as if payment had been made to a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and it shall not be required to see to the application thereof. Any licensed funeral director or other person to whom payment is made shall be answerable therefor to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution.
(d) Life insurance payable to estate.--Any insurance company which upon the death of an individual residing in this Commonwealth owes his estate a total amount of $11,000 or less under any policy of life, endowment, accident or health insurance, or under any annuity or pure endowment contract, may at any time after 60 days following his death pay all or any part of that amount to the spouse, any child, the father or mother or any sister or brother of the decedent (preference being given in the order named) provided that at the time of the payment no written claim for that money has been received at the office of the company specified in the policy or contract for the receipt of claims from any duly appointed personal representative of the decedent. Any insurance company making any payment in accordance with this section to an adult may rely on the affidavit of any of the persons named in this subsection concerning the existence and relationship of these persons and shall be released to the same extent as if payment had been made to a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and the insurance company shall not be required to see to the application thereof. Any person to whom payment is made shall be answerable therefor to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution.
(e) Unclaimed property.--
(1) In any case where property or funds owned by an individual who has died a resident of this Commonwealth have been reported to the Commonwealth and are in the custody of the State Treasurer as unclaimed or abandoned property, the State Treasurer, at any time after the death of the individual, shall be authorized under this section to distribute the property or to pay the amount being held in custody where all of the following conditions are present:
(i) The amount of the funds or the value of the property is $11,000 or less.
(ii) The person claiming the property or the funds is the surviving spouse, child, mother or father, or sister or brother of the decedent, with preference given in that order.
(iii) A personal representative of the decedent has not been appointed or five years have2 lapsed since the appointment of a personal representative of the decedent.
(2) Upon being presented with a claim for property owned by a decedent, the State Treasurer shall require the person claiming the property to provide all of the following prior to distributing the property or paying the amount held in custody:
(i) A certified death certificate of the owner.
(ii) A sworn affidavit under the penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities) setting forth the relationship of the claimant to the decedent, the existence or nonexistence of a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and any other persons that may be entitled under this section to make a claim to the decedent's property.
(iii) Other information determined by the State Treasurer to be necessary in order to distribute property or pay funds under this section to the proper person.
(3) If the State Treasurer determines the claimant to be a person entitled to claim property of a decedent owner, the State Treasurer shall pay or distribute such property to the claimant and shall thereby be released to the same extent as if payment or distribution had been made to a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and shall not be required to oversee the application of the payments made. Any claimant to whom payment is made shall be answerable therefore to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution or payment.

Credits

1972, June 30, P.L. 508, No. 164, § 2, eff. July 1, 1972. Amended 1974, May 10, P.L. 282, No. 84, § 1, imd. effective; 1975, Dec. 19, P.L. 598, No. 168, § 1, imd. effective; 1976, July 9, P.L. 551, No. 135, § 15, imd. effective; 1980, July 11, P.L. 565, No. 118, § 3, effective in 60 days; 1982, Feb. 18, P.L. 45, No. 26, § 2, imd. effective; 1993, June 28, P.L. 181, No. 38, § 1, imd. effective; 1994, Dec. 1, P.L. 655, No. 102, § 3, effective in 60 days; 2002, June 28, P.L. 478, No. 80, § 1, imd. effective; 2013, July 2, P.L. 199, No. 35, § 1, effective in 60 days [Sept. 3, 2013].
JT. ST. GOVT. COMM. COMMENT--1949
Subsection (a): This replaces Section 49(f) of the Fiduciaries Act of 1917 [June 7, 1917, P.L. 447, No. 193], and differs from it in the following respects:
(1) The requirement that the employer wait for thirty days is omitted.
(2) The husband as well as the wife is included.
(3) “Wages or salary in an amount not exceeding two hundred and fifty dollars” rather than “all wages ... where such wages due do not exceed two hundred and fifty dollars in amount” has been used to make it clear that $250 of wages or salary can be paid even when the total due exceeds $250.
(4) “Any child” rather than “children” is used so that it is clear that an employer may make payment to any child. For his own protection, the employer would, of course, make payment only to an adult.
(5) It is now clear that the employer has no obligation to determine whether letters have been granted.
(6) No provision is made concerning payments to “undertaker, physician, boarding-house keeper, and nurse, each his or her pro rata share upon affidavit of fact furnished.” Payment to any of these can be made by the employer upon receipt of a certified copy of a decree under Section 202 where there is no spouse, child, parent, sister or brother to whom the employer can make payment under this section. Also avoided is the slight discrepancy in the order of distribution among creditors existing between Section 13 and Section 49(f) of the 1917 Act.
(7) The words “shall be answerable therefor to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution” have been included to avoid any constitutional question: cf. Coral Gables First National Bank v. Hart, 20 S.2d 647 (Fla.1945), annotated 44 Mich.L.R. 492.
Subsection (a): The words “or any accrued pension due the deceased” are added to clarify what was intended when the section was originally drafted.
JT. ST. GOVT. COMM. COMMENT--1976
This section is broadened to include all employee benefits.
JT. ST. GOVT. COMM. COMMENT--1980
Section 3101 is amended by adding subsections (b) and (c), authorizing payments not exceeding $1,500 in the former case to the family of the decedent and, in the latter case, payments not exceeding $1,000 from a facility in which the decedent was a patient to a licensed funeral director. In connection with subsection (b), a former version had been included in omnibus bills submitted to the 1973 and 1975 Sessions of the General Assembly. As pointed out in the [Joint State Government] Commission's report, Proposed Amendments, Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code, Phase II, 1973, p. 7:
This new subsection authorizes payment of bank accounts up to [1,500] to a family member without requiring that a personal representative be appointed.
Since family payments of wages, salaries and employee benefits appear to have successfully expedited small estates without known abuses, it was determined to extend this discretionary authority to banks and savings institutions to pay accounts up to [$1,500] to family members to facilitate the closing of very small estates with minimal administration expense and delay.
In order to satisfy objections raised during committee hearings on the 1973 and 1975 legislation, a further provision was inserted allowing the financial institution to require a receipted funeral bill or an affidavit setting forth that arrangements satisfactory to a licensed funeral director have been made for payment for his services.
Subsection (c) was included at the suggestion of the Pennsylvania Association of County Affiliated Homes and the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association to facilitate the closing of small estates without the expense and inconvenience required to take out letters. As noted above, the payments under this subsection may not exceed $1,000.
JT. ST. GOVT. COMM. COMMENT--1982
Subsection (d) is added, extending the policy expressed in subsections (b) and (c) of facilitating the closing of small estates with minimal administration expense and delay, to payment to the decedent's family by an insurance company of $11,000 or less, including interest accrued under any policy payable to the estate.
HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES
Act 1974-84 legislation
Act 1974-84 increased the amount of benefit from $1,000 to $2,000.
Act 1975-168 legislation
Act 1975-168 increased the amount of benefit from $2,000 to $3,500.
Act 1976-135 legislation
Act 1976-135 substituted “Payments to family” for “Payment of wages, salary, vacation benefits to family” as section heading, and in first sentence, substituted “any employee benefits” for “any accrued vacation benefits or pension”.
Act 1980-118 legislation
Act 1980-118, in subsec. (a), supplied section head and substituted “this” for “the” preceding “Commonwealth”; added subsec. (b).
Act 1982-26 legislation
Act 1982-26 changed section heading from “Payments to funeral directors”; added second sentence and in fourth sentence inserted “or other person”; added subsec. (d).
Section 13 of Act 1982, Feb. 18, P.L. 45, No. 26, provides, in part, that the amendment to this section “shall take effect immediately and shall apply to the estates of all decedents dying on or after the effective date [February 18, 1982]”.
Act 1993-38 legislation
Act 1993-38, in subsec. (b), increased the savings account limit and, in subsec. (c), increased the limits for care accounts and burial expenses.
Act 1994-102 legislation
Act 1994-102, in subsec. (a) raised the maximum amount payable by employers from $3,500 to $5,000.
Section 10(1) of Act 1994, Dec. 1, P.L. 655, No. 102, provides:
“The amendment of 20 Pa.C.S. §§ 2101, 3101(a), 3102, 3121 and 3531 shall apply to the estates of decedents dying on or after the effective date of this act.”
Act 2002-80 legislation
Act 2002-80, § 1, added subsec. (e).
Act 2013-35 legislation
Act 2013-35, § 1, in subsec. (b), substituted “shall pay” for “may pay”, “$10,000” for “$3,500” and “Any bank, association, credit union” for “Any bank, association, union”; and in subsec. (c), substituted “an amount not exceeding $10,000” for “an amount not exceeding $3,500” and “, including the payment for burial expenses, does not exceed $10,000” for “including the payment for burial expenses does not exceed $4,000”.
Section 2 of 2013, July 2, P.L. 199, No. 35, effective in 60 days [Sept. 3, 2013], provides that “[t]he amendment of 20 Pa.C.S. §§ 3101(b) and (c), 3102 and 3531 shall apply to estates of decedents dying on or after the effective date of this section.”
Prior Laws:
1917, June 7, P.L. 447, § 49f (20 P.S. § 867).
1949, April 18, P.L. 512, Art. II, § 201 (20 P.S. § 320.201).
1956, Feb. 23, P.L. (1955) 1084, § 2.
1956, May 29, P.L. (1955) 1853, No. 616, § 1.
1963, May 20, P.L. 46, § 1.

Footnotes

Now Department of Human Services; see 62 P.S. § 103.
“has” in enrolled bill.
20 Pa.C.S.A. § 3101, PA ST 20 Pa.C.S.A. § 3101
Current through 2017 Regular Session Act 32
End of Document© 2017 Thomson Reuters. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.