Pennsylvania does apply a tax on assets passed through probate or intestacy. The amount of tax depends on the value of the estate as well as the relationship of the beneficiaries to the decedent. There is no tax imposed for assets passing to a surviving spouse or to a child under 21 years old. There is a 4.5% tax for assets passing to children over 21, parents or grandparents. There is a 12% tax for assets passing to siblings. There is a 15% tax for all other transfers including to aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins or persons of no relation. There are some institutions exempt from the inheritance tax including certain government entities and charitable organizations.
Inheritance taxes are to be paid within nine months from the date of death of the decedent to avoid any penalty. A 5% discount on the tax is extended for returns filed within three months from date of death. Assets passing outside of the will or the rules of intestacy are not subject to the inheritance tax. Popular examples of assets passing outside of the will are life insurance policies, retirement plans and other assets with a designated beneficiary. Additionally, assets jointly owned with rights of survivorship will automatically pass to the surviving owner.