Sweeney Law Offices, LLC
We Are Here To Help
Menu Contact

Understanding Pennsylvania's intestate succession guidelines

While most adults in Cranberry Township likely understand that they should start considering their estate planning, few have actually completed the process. Indeed, according to information shared by the American Association of Retired Persons, as many as 60 percent of Americans do not have a will. There may be many reasons why people put off estate planning: they may fear the prospect of facing their own mortality, or they may simply believe that they will always have time later to do it. Yet one of the primary reasons is likely misunderstanding. 

Among that misunderstanding may be the notion that if one does not leave a will, it is left to their heirs to determine how to divide their estate. That is not the case. If a person dies intestate (without a will) the state then determines how their assets are dispersed. Pennsylvania's intestate succession guidelines can be found in Chapter 21 of the state's Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code. Here it states that one's surviving spouse is entitled to their entire estate if they die intestate and leave behind no surviving issue (direct descendants). If one does leave behind any issue (who are also the issue of the surviving spouse) or they are survived by their parents, then the spouse is entitled to the first $30,000 of their estate plus one-half of its remaining balance. The estate is split evenly if one leaves behind issue who are not biologically related to the surviving spouse. 

If one who dies intestate leaves no surviving spouse, then the order of succession is as follows: 

  • Issue
  • Parents
  • Siblings (or their issue)
  • Grandparents
  • Extended family

If one has no familial connections, their intestate estate goes to the state. Thus, those hoping to leave assets to parties they are not directly related to must stipulate that in a will

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Nebraska State bar association Allegheny County Bar Association - RAising the bar on legal and community service Superlawyers 2012,2013,2014,2015 Avvo Rated by Super Lawyers - Mildred B. Sweeney Selected in 2012 Thomson reuters Rated by Super Lawyers - Rising Stars Flora Sweeney Hunzeker Superlawyers.com Rated by Super Lawyers - Rising Stars Heather M. Papp - Sicignano Superlawyers.com Pennsylvania bar association lawyer distinction 2019 lawyer distinction 2020

Sweeney Law Offices, LLC
20581 Route 19, Suite 1
Cranberry Township, PA 16066

Phone: 724-742-2590
Fax: 724-742-4409
Cranberry Township Law Office Map

Speak With One Of Our Attorneys

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

email us for a response