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Who gets the estate if there is no will or trust?

First Prince, and now Aretha. The music community lost another incredible talent on August 16th. The finances of an intensely private Aretha Franklin soon will become very public in probate court because she left no will or trust. The decision to not have a will has prompted her four sons to file a document listing themselves as interested in her estate.

When someone who lives in Pennsylvania dies without a will or trust, the state's intestacy succession laws will dictate who inherits the deceased person's probate estate. Probate assets are anything owned by a deceased person that require a court-supervised probate process.

With a will-based estate plan, you will provide all the essential details of who will inherit your property, when and how they will inherit it, and who will be the executor to settle your final affairs. If you have minor children, your estate plan will also provide the name(s) of who you would like to serve as their guardian until they become adults.

The heirs that are eligible to inherit

Intestate succession determines the order in which heirs inherit an estate when there is no estate plan. A surviving spouse always receives at least half of the estate, or may receive it in full if the deceased leave no living descendants. In Pennsylvania, the surviving spouse will first inherit the first $30,000 of the probate estate plus one-half of the balance, and living descendants of the two spouses will inherit the remainder. It is important to note that these descendants are the children of the deceased and surviving spouse.

Children from a previous marriage will inherit one-half of the estate after the surviving inherits the first half. Spouses and children typically share the entire estate if all are living. If no surviving children, living grandchildren and great-grandchildren will typically inherit their parent's share.

Who's next in line?

Parents and siblings are usually next in line for inheritance, followed by other extended family members. If the deceased leaves no living descendants, spouse or parents, the surviving siblings will inherit 100% of the probate estate. When there is no surviving parents, siblings or descendants of siblings, the probate estate will move through extended - grandparents, aunts or uncles, cousins of any degree, etc.

If a loved one has died without a will or trust, it is important to get the legal help you need to properly distribute the estate. The skilled estate planning attorneys at Quinn Law Firm can help. Call 814-833-2222 for more information on how they can help guide you through this process.

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Quinn Law Firm
2222 West Grandview Boulevard
Erie, Pennsylvania 16506

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