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Intestate Succession in Pennsylvania

Wills and estate planning lawyers help resolve intestate succession concerns

Many people believe that if you die intestate (without a will) in Pennsylvania, all of your worldly possessions will default to the Commonwealth. However, this is not necessarily the case.

If you die intestate, the PA Register of Wills will appoint an administrator in lieu of an executor or executrix to oversee the disposition of your estate, including payment of any required taxes. Any issues that arise in relation to the disposition of your estate, such as inheritance claims, fall under the jurisdiction of the Orphans’ Court.

According to the Law of Intestate Succession (20 Pa.C.S.A. §2101 et seq.), the decision as to whether someone other than the Commonwealth can be considered your heir depends on his or her relationship to you — and to your other survivors.

Relations who may be deemed heirs without a will

Pennsylvania’s primary goal in creating the Law of Intestate Succession was to protect the rights of a surviving spouse and children of the decedent. Under certain circumstances, other family members may be eligible to receive an inheritance, including:

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings
  • Aunts and uncles
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Grandchildren

On a high level, the law says that if a spouse survives the decedent, that spouse will inherit a certain amount of the estate. This amount will be affected by whether other living relatives qualify to inherit as well — especially children. If there is no surviving spouse or any other qualified family member, then the estate will pass into possession of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The law actually becomes more complicated the further you delve into the details, particularly concerning distribution methods, how taxes and funeral expenses are handled and other important issues. A qualified law firm can help those you leave behind negotiate their way through the red tape.

Spare your family added aggravation during an already difficult time of loss. Meet with a Pittsburgh wills and estate planning attorney today and draw up a will that ensures you leave those you love exactly what they need for the future.

Contact us for help preparing for the inevitable

No one likes to think about his or her life ending. However, it is an unfortunate fact we all must face. To avoid dying intestate and causing your family added grief, contact one of our skilled wills and estate planning attorneys at Fingeret Law at 412.281.8222 or contact us online. We have served the Greater Pittsburgh community for more than 40 years in the practice areas of estate planning, wills, probate and guardianships, as well as elder law, nursing home abuse and medical assistance planning. We travel to clients.