Intestate Estates

Intestate Estates


A person who dies without a will in PA is said to have died “intestate.”

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has developed a set of intestate laws which guide the disposition of a person’s property if he or she dies without a will. These laws can be found at 20 Pa.C.S.A. § 2101 et seq. These laws dictate which heirs have entitlement to the estate. Whether a person is an heir depends on his or her relationship to the deceased.

If the decedent is survived by a spouse, the amount of the estate due the spouse varies depending on who the other then living relatives are. The law controlling what portion of the decedent’s estate the surviving spouse is entitled to can be found at 20 Pa.C.S.A. § 2102.

If there is no surviving spouse, the laws of Intestate Succession at 20 Pa.C.S.A. § 2103, provide for the passing of the estate to the decedent’s heirs in the following order:

  • Children, first, to the children of the decedent;
  • Parents, if no children survive the decedent, the decedent’s parents share the estate equally; if only one parent survives, the surviving parent takes the entire estate;
  • Brother, Sister, (or their Children), if no parent survives the decedent, then the estate will be distributed to the children of the decedent’s parents (or their children);
  • Grandparents, if no siblings survive the decedent, then the grandparents of the decedent shall receive one-half to the paternal grandparents and one-half to the maternal grandparents, (or their children);
  • Uncles, Aunts, and their Children and Grandchildren, if no grandparents survive the decedent, the estate is distributed to the decedent’s uncles, aunts, and their children and grandchildren;
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, if no one mentioned above survives the decedent, then the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania assumes the estate.

Before an estate can be administered, the probate court must appoint an administrator. An administrator’s duties are similar to an executor. The court does this by granting letters of administration to the person so entitled. In some instances, the heirs agree to the appointment of a certain individual. In others, a hearing is held at which time a judge will decide who the administrator will be.

Our attorneys have a great deal of experience dealing with estate matters and we can help you get through this most difficult time. Contact us today for your free consultation.

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