The Spousal Share if You Die Without a Will in Pennsylvania
Contrary to popular myth, if you die without having put any estate planning strategies in place in Pennsylvania, the state will not take your property and leave your spouse and/or children penniless. Though a will or trust will give you much greater control over the distribution of your assets, the state has statutes, known as laws of intestate succession, which set forth an order for distribution. The primary purpose of the laws is to protect your spouse and any surviving children.
How Much Will Your Spouse Receive?
The portion of your estate that will go to your spouse depends on a number of factors:
- Do you have surviving children?
- Are the children also the offspring of your spouse?
- Do you have surviving parents?
If your spouse survives you, but there are no surviving children and your parents are both deceased, your entire estate will pass to your spouse. If, however, you have children who survive you, the law looks at whether the children are also progeny of your spouse. If so, then your spouse receives the first $30,000 of the estate, plus one half of the balance, with the other half equally divided among your children. If, however, at least one of the surviving children is your child only, then your spouse will not get the first $30,000, but only a one-half interest in the value of the estate. This provision of the law addresses the presumption that the surviving spouse will care only for his or her own children, not for the children of the deceased.
If there are no children, but one or both of your parents survive you, your spouse will be entitled to the first $30,000 of the estate, and the balance will be divided in half, with one half going to your spouse, and the other half to your parents.
Contact the Law Office of Halligan & Keaton
At Halligan & Keaton, we offer more than 60 years of combined legal experience to people throughout in and around Media, Pennsylvania. To set up a free initial consultation to discuss your estate planning needs, call our office at
610-566-6030 or contact us online. We will travel to your home, a long-term care facility or the hospital to meet with you.