Anyone wishing to know what former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno said in his Will is likely out of luck. The Wilkes-Barre Citizen’s Voice newspaper is reporting that a Pennsylvania probate court judge has ordered that Mr. Paterno’s Will be sealed and thus made unavailable to public inspection. The courts apparently sealed not only the Will but also the original petition that asks the court to seal it, as well as the order granting the petition’s request. At least one Pennsylvania probate attorney has stated that this action is very strange and uncommon. The Citizen’s Voice also reported that the Paterno Will is the only one to have been sealed in Centre County, Pennsylvania for least the past 18 months.
Mr. Paterno died at the age of 85 earlier this year after suffering from lung cancer. He was head football coach at Penn State for more than four decades until he was removed by the university’s Board of Trustees after child sex abuse allegations arose concerning former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
The Will was filed on April 5th by estate attorney Raymond Parker. Mr. Parker also petitioned the court to seal the Will on the same day. The judge presiding over the case apparently granted the request four days later. However, the Citizen’s Voice was unable to determine which of the five county judges issued the order and the presiding judge has not issued a statement.
Wills are usually made public, as are any documents filed in the probate process. However, courts may sometimes seal documents for various reasons, and occasionally do so when the Will is that of a high profile or notorious person.