Who Are Your Legal Children under the Pennsylvania Laws of Intestacy

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If 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.

For children to inherit from you under the laws of intestacy, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must consider them your children, legally. For most 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 would not 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) predeceases you.

If you have any questions regarding Pennsylvania Intestacy Laws contact Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604. The Law Offices of Spadea & Associates, LLC specializes in Probate, Estate Administration and Estate Litigation.

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