Pennsylvania does apply a tax on assets passed through probate or intestacy. The amount of tax depends on the net value of the estate as well as the relationship of the beneficiaries to the decedent. The first step is to add up all the assets of the estate. The next step is to subtract permissible deductions including costs of administration of the estate and debts of 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. Penalties and interest can begin to accrue for taxes that are not paid within nine (9) months of the decedent’s death. It is possible to request an extension in certain circumstances. Assets passing outside of the will or the rules of intestacy are generally not subject to the inheritance tax. Examples of assets that pass 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 as a matter of law.