From Our “Ask a Question” mailbag: If My Husband Died Without a Will, Who Inherits His Things?
“My husband died without a Will in Chester County, PA. He owned real estate and had several accounts in his name alone. He had no children, but his parents are both alive. Do my husband’s parents inherit his estate?”
Intestacy; Dying Without A Will.
When a person dies without a Will, they have died “intestate.” Each state has specific rules dividing a person’s assets if they die without a Will. These rules differ from state-to-state. For example, compare the Pennsylvania Intestacy Rules to the New Jersey Intestacy Rules.
Your husband could have avoided these default rules using a Will. For example, there is no legal obligation to include parents in a Pennsylvania Will, so he could have easily excluded his parents from his estate.
When You Die Without A Will In Pennsylvania The Rules Of Intestacy Determine Your Heirs.
Your husband died without a Will, without children, married but with surviving parents. Applying the Pennsylvania Intestacy Rules to those facts, you as his spouse receive the first $30,000 plus one-half of the remaining intestate estate. His parents divide the remaining one-half share. So, if your husband’s probate estate exceeds $30,000 his parents inherit a portion of his estate.
File A Petition For Administration.
You may open your spouse’s estate by filing a Petition for Administration. In your case, it will be deposited with the Chester County Register of Wills. As the surviving spouse, you will be considered first to serve as the Administrator. But, you must notify your in-laws. They could choose to challenge your serving as Administrator. You would be wise to retain an experienced Probate Attorney. Be prepared; your in-laws will have the right to object to every action you take. They can question every expense incurred. As your Probate Lawyer, I would advise you to keep them informed of the process and to obtain liability releases before distributing any assets.
See my website for more detailed information about the Chester County Probate Process.
If My Husband Died Without a Will, Who Inherits His Things:
In conclusion, in this Post, I tried to answer the question, “If my husband died without a Will, who inherits his things?” So, let me know how I did, comments and questions are welcome!
Contact our office for a free consultation if you have further questions about Intestate Estates or the Pennsylvania Rules of Intestacy, or any other issues about Probate.
Wills, Trusts and Probate, and Estate Litigation it’s all we do!
Author, Peter Klenk, Esq.