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What happens if you die without a will in Pennsylvania?

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2022 | Estate Planning

Creating a will is very important for those who are responsible for someone else’s life or who have major personal property, like a house or a business. The person creating the estate plan will benefit from the process, as will their dependent loved ones.

Unfortunately, it is easy for even the most responsible adults to find excuses for why they want to delay estate planning. You never know when you might get into a car accident or have a sudden cardiac event. If you die before you create a legal will, what happens to your property and your family?

Pennsylvania has special laws in place

The good news for family members of someone who dies without an estate plan is that there are state laws specifically discussing what will happen with their property. Intestate succession laws apply whenever someone does not leave behind testamentary documents or when such documents turn out to be invalid due to undue influence or a lack of capacity at the time of their creation.

Intestate succession laws focus on the rights of close family members. Spouses and children have the strongest inheritance rights, but more distant family members can receive property from the estate when someone dies without a spouse or children. In rare cases where there are no direct family members, the property in someone’s estate may eventually become the property of the state of Pennsylvania.

You deserve to have control over your legacy

There are countless reasons why you may want to take the time to draft a comprehensive estate plan. Maybe you have a strained relationship with close family members and would prefer to leave your money to friends or a charitable cause. Maybe you are in a long-term relationship but have not married your romantic partner. A will or trust may be the only way to ensure that your partner and not your family members will be the one to receive your most valuable property.

For those who have a loved one who died without an estate plan, probate proceedings will likely be necessary to ensure the proper descent of their assets in accordance with state law. Learning about what happens if someone dies without a will can help you handle probate proceedings or find the motivation to create your own estate plan.