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What happens to your parent’s estate if they die without a will?

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2022 | Estate Administration |

When someone dies without a will in place, the law refers to the event as dying intestate. If your parent dies intestate, you and your family might be in a state of confusion regarding the inheritance of their estate.

The Pennsylvania courts oversee the process of estate administration even in the absence of a will. By familiarizing yourself with the process, you can dispel the sense of uncertainty that hangs over your family following your parent’s passing.

What is the estate administration process like without a will?

A properly-written will appoints a chosen individual as the executor who oversees the estate administration process following the signer’s death. In the absence of a will, the court appoints an administrator according to state law. This is typically the deceased’s surviving spouse or next of kin.

How must the administrator distribute the estate?

The administrator of the deceased’s estate must follow a set of pre-defined instructions and report to the probate court. Duties include appraising assets, paying outstanding debts, and distributing the estate while ensuring that the heirs pay the required inheritance tax. The administrator should consider the weight of legal and financial responsibility, and only accept advice from a qualified professional rather than casual assistance from a friend or family member.

Estate planning is a process that makes things easier on your surviving family when the worst occurs. If your parent passes away before you get the chance to talk to them about estate planning, however, the court system does have procedures in place to ensure the equitable distribution of assets to the deceased’s heirs.