I hope this message finds you well, present circumstances excluded. Please accept my condolences on the loss of your spouse. I am a licensed attorney with over a dozen years of practice experience. It is a pleasure to assist you today. In Pennsylvania, if you are married and you die without a will, what your spouse gets depends on whether or not you have living parents or descendants -- children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren. If you don’t, then your spouse inherits all of your intestate
property. If you do, they and your spouse will share your intestate property as follows:If you die with parents but no descendants. Your surviving spouse inherits the first $30,000 of your intestate property, plus 1/2 of the balance. If you die with children or other descendants from you and the surviving spouse. Your surviving spouse inherits the first $30,000 of your intestate property, plus 1/2 of the balance. If you die with descendants who are not the descendants of your surviving spouse.Your spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate property. These rules do not apply if your spouse has “willfully neglected or refused to perform the duty” of supporting you for at least one year. They also do not apply if you die in the state of Pennsylvania during divorce proceedings from your spouse. (20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2106.) Children’s Shares in PennyslvaniaIf you die without a will in Pennsylvania, your children will receive an “intestate share” of your property. The size of each child’s share depends on how many children you have and whether or not you are married. (See the table above.)For children to inherit from you under the laws of intestacy, the state of Pennsylvania must consider them your children, legally. For many families, this is not a confusing issue. But it’s not always clear. Here are some things to keep in mind.Adopted children. Children you legally adopted will receive an intestate share, just as your biological children do.Foster children and stepchildren. Foster children and stepchildren you never legally adopted will not automatically receive a share.Children placed for adoption. Children you placed for adoption and who were legally adopted by another family will not receive a share. However, if your biological children were adopted by your spouse, that won’t affect their intestate inheritance. (20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2108.)Other relatives placed for adoption. A relative other than your child -- for example, your grandchild -- who was legally adopted by another family may receive a share of your estate
if the relative would otherwise be entitled to inherit from you and you have “maintained a family relationship.” (20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2108.)Posthumous children. Children conceived by you but not born before your death will receive a share. (20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2104.)Children born outside of marriage. If you were not married to your children’s mother when she gave birth to them, they will receive a share of your estate if (1) you and their mother get married later, (2) you acknowledged your paternity, or (3) your paternity is otherwise proved under Pennsylvania law. (20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2107.)Children born during your marriage. Any child born to your wife during your marriage is assumed to be your child and will receive a share of your estate.Grandchildren. Your grandchildren will receive a share only if their parent (your child) has died before you do. Let me know if you have any other questions or comments. Please also rate my answer positively (three or more stars). Best wishes going forward!