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Intestate Succession

A Pennsylvania intestate succession lawyer is a person who will answer your questions and assist your family when a person you loved passes away and doesn’t have a will. The family needs to be familiar with the intestate succession law in the state of Pennsylvania. Your will is where you list what you want to happen to your property, and this should only be drafted or revised by an attorney who has a good grasp on what must be included in this important document.

An intestate succession attorney in Pennsylvania is there to help you avoid mistakes. In the event that someone you love passes away in the state of Pennsylvania and doesn’t have a will, their property and assets will be given to the closest relatives as decided by the intestate succession laws of the state. Just assets that should have been handled through the will be decided by laws dealing with intestate succession. Typically, this includes assets that are owned individually in the decedent's sole name. In some cases, valuable assets do not end up as part of your will and are not subject to intestate succession laws.

Common examples include life insurance proceeds, property that you transferred into a living trust, payable on death bank accounts, securities you placed into an account that will be transferred upon your death, funds in retirement accounts and property that is jointly owned with someone else. A Pennsylvania intestate succession lawyer will explain to you that will receive what asset after you pass away is determined by if you have living parents, children or other relatives.

If you have no spouse but have surviving children, then the intestate succession laws in Pennsylvania remain with the children and they get everything. If you have no parents or descendants but are married, your spouse takes all of the assets associated with your estate. If you have parents and a spouse, the spouse will get the initial $30,000 of the intestate property and one half of what’s left and parents will inherit the remaining property.

If you are not married and have no children but your parents are living at the time you pass away, the parents get all of your estate. If you have are not married and your parents are deceased but have brothers or sisters, then the siblings inherit everything.

If you have a spouse along with descendants from you and someone other than that individual spouse, then the spouse inherits half of all intestate property and descendants inherit it all. If you have spouse and descendants from you and that same spouse, the spouse will receive the initial $30,000 of the property plus one half of what is left and the descendants will get everything else.

The courts will decide what the surviving spouse of who didn’t have a will gets based on whether or not the person had living descendants or parents. Living descendants can include grandchildren, great grandchildren, or children. If you do not have any of these descendants, then the spouse receives everything in the intestate property. Where this can come up as a particular issue is if you have gotten divorce but failed to update any of your estate planning materials. This can be especially problematic from the perspective of the fact that legally, or if you are separated and have not articulated this in your estate planning documents, a spouse could be entitled to receive some or all of your estate. Make sure that you update your documents if you choose to become separated.

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