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Probate Deferment Initiative (PDI)

Helping residents get legal ownership of their homes and protect their generational wealth.

About

The Probate Deferment Initiative (PDI) connects low- and middle-income residents with the resources they need to untangle their homes’ titles. This may include:

PDI can help you get legal ownership of your home and avoid problems caused by a tangled title. You can also create a will and protect your family's generational wealth.

What's a tangled title?

A tangled title is a property title that hasn't been updated to reflect new ownership. Often, this happens when:

  • A property owner dies without leaving a will. In this case, the official ownership of the property is unclear, and may be shared by all of the person’s heirs.
  • A property owner dies and leaves a will that names a new owner, but the deed transfer isn’t properly recorded.
  • A fraudulent deed is recorded.
  • A rent-to-own agreement goes wrong.

A tangled title will keep you from negotiating payment agreements with a bank, paying off back taxes, or qualifying for support like basic system repair grants.

Who's eligible for PDI?

To qualify for this program, you must:

  • Have an income of $50,000 or less. Priority is given to people whose pre-tax household income doesn't exceed 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
  • Live or intend to live in the property.
  • Be a direct heir of the deceased property owner.
  • Be an heir to an estate where a single property is the only asset. If the estate has other assets, such as a bank account, it will not qualify for this program.

How to get help

1
To get started, contact the Register of Wills office at ROW.PDI@phila.gov.

If you prefer, you can call (215) 686-6250.

You’ll be asked to describe your situation and provide basic details on your income, relationship to the property owner, and more. This will help us determine if you’re eligible and how we can help.

2
We’ll connect you with free legal assistance to help you untangle your property's title.

We’re working with Community Legal Services, the SeniorLAW Center, and other community partners.

3
As part of the process, some City fees may be deferred or waived.

The Register of Wills will defer the probate costs by placing a small lien on the property. It will never be charged interest, and as long as the family lives in the home, the Register of Wills will not ask for payment.

The Department of Records will waive the deed recording fees. This waiver only applies for a property transfer to a direct heir of the estate.

4
You can make a will, breaking the cycle.

The same lawyer who helped you untangle your title can also help you make a will.


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