When you pass away, it is important to have a will in place so that your assets are distributed per your wishes. However, if you pass away without a valid will in place, your estate will be distributed pursuant to Pennsylvania intestacy rules.
If you are married at the time of your passing, the following rules apply:
- If you do not have surviving parents or issue (i.e. children), your spouse will be entitled to your entire estate.
- If you leave issue (all of whom are also issue of your spouse), then your spouse will get the first $30,000 and half of the remaining estate, and your children will split the other half of the estate.
- If one or more of your issue are from a parent other than the surviving spouse, then your spouse will receive half and the issue will split to remaining half.Likewise, if you have no issue but your parents are alive, then your spouse will get half of the estate and your parents will get the other half.
If you do not leave a surviving spouse, then your estate is left in the following order:
- Siblings (or their issue)
- Aunts and Uncles (or cousins)
- Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
It is important to speak with an experienced attorney as the rules are very complex and often confusing.