What are my rights on a property if mom died without a will?

Q: Mom died without a will. She has a living son and step-father. Step-father did not adopt the son. Step father is not willing to divide the property or the items in the property. Just need to know what our options are? (Kittanning, PA)

A: If I understand this correctly, mom died without a will and was survived by a son and a step-father to the son, her husband? If I am correct my answer is as follows. Since mom has no will, the Pennsylvania intestate (no will) statute applies. That statute related to these facts would result in the husband getting the first 30K from mother’s estate (things in her name only) and the husband and her son would share the balance. You would need to make sure she is on deed alone, or on the deed with her deceased husband, for this result. If she and her husband are on the deed as husband and wife (tenants by the entireties), he now owns the property.

Can I still inherit from my Dad’s estate?

Q: At the time of my Dad’s death, my step mother was still alive. He had no will. The administrator never told the children of any inheritance. My step mother has now passed. Are we still entitled to any proceeds from the sale of his home? (West Mifflin, PA)

A: As your father had no will, who stands to inherit from your father depends on PA intestate (no will) law. The PA intestate statute sets out who inherits and what percentage. It is likely that the children as well as the second wife will inherit from the estate. However, if the house was owned by husband and wife (both on the deed), it is likely to not pass into the estate but instead bypass the estate and pass directly to the surviving spouse under the law of entireties. You could look up the old deed with a trip to the Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds. You can also look in the Register of Wills to see if an estate was opened for your step-mother. You can also consult with an attorney.

Do I have legal right to inherit from my brother in law?

Q: My brother in law died recently in Pennsylvania without a will, his brother (my husband) died 5 years ago but was named as beneficiary on his policies. My brother in law was never married nor had children, he does have an aunt and cousins. Who would be next of kin? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If your brother in law was not survived by a spouse, children or parents, his intestate (no will) share will pass to his siblings in equal shares. If any of your brother in law’s siblings have predeceased your brother in law, that deceased’s siblings share will pass to his or her children equally. So, if your husband has children, any portion of his brother’s estate he will inherit will pass instead to your husband’s children, biological or adopted. You mention “policies”, so I assume you mean insurance policies. Insurance policy proceeds pass directly to the named beneficiary or beneficiaries on the policy and not into the estate. If there are no living beneficiaries on the policy, then the insurance proceeds are payable to the estate. If so, the estate will distribute inheritance to the heirs named in the will or to the heirs under intestate law.

Do I need a new deed now that my wife died?

Q: I recently lost my wife to brain cancer and our house is in both names. Do I have to do anything to remove her name or wait until I sell the house? She had no will or anything and wondered does everything just get put into my name as far as any belongings in the house? Wife’s family brainwashed our son who filed a false police report in hopes to have me arrested but because that did not work and DCP was called in, in-laws and son took me and wife to court while she was on hospice. I can’t trust them with anything at this time. They did not even visit my wife when they live a mile away and cared less about her after she was diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago. I now live alone in house but always think something can happen when I am not home. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: In PA, deeds titled in the names of husband and wife are held as tenants by the entireties. This means that both spouses hold an undivided interest in the whole, as one. Unlike with joint tenants, where on tenant dies, and the survivor tenant inherits their half, the surviving entireties tenant still owns the whole as he did before, now only in his name. It is confusing but if your deed lists you as tenants by the entireties, or as husband and wife, you probably are now the sole owner. And generally, there is no reason to execute and file a new deed. A deceased’s spouse name can remain on the deed until the house is sold by the surviving spouse. As far as any other property held in your wife’s name only that was not real estate held by the entireties with you, there could be concerns. If she died with no will that left everything to you, then property held in her name only, passes in accordance with PA intestate (no will) law. This means that the first 30k of her estate passes to you, the surviving spouse, and the balance is shared 50/50 between you and children of you and your deceased spouse. As for your son and in-laws, you may want to consider getting a security system or a Pit Bull or Rottweiler, as a roommate.

Who has legal rights to the home?

Q: If there are three siblings and one sibling is deceased, and she was married. Dad had a house but died and left no will. Does the one deceased sibling’s husband have any rights to the house along with the remaining siblings? The husband also has Alzheimer’s and in a nursing home. (Plum Borough, PA)

A: I will assume that the sibling died prior to the passing of your father, your father owned the home and as you said, he had no will when he died, and your mother predeceased him, or they were divorced prior to his passing. If this is correct, his home will pass under the intestate laws (no will) of PA. Under your facts, his 3 children, and the child or children of a deceased child (if any) will inherit his estate property, which will include the house, in equal shares. If the deceased child (your sibling) had a child or children, that child or children will inherit the share of their deceased parent (your sibling) which would be one-quarter.

Will I pay inheritance tax as a spouse?

Q: My husband, deceased Aug 2017, had some property in his name only, this property was purchased before we were married, and one piece was purchased after marriage, is this property taxed as inheritance tax for me (spouse). Is there anything taxable to me (spouse) as inheritance? I live in Allegheny County, in Pennsylvania. (Verona, PA)

A: If the property is in his name only and not in his name and yours, as husband and wife, it will pass to the heirs named in his will. If he has no will it will pass in accordance with the PA intestate succession statute. As applicable to spouses, the first 30K will pass to the spouse and the balance will be shared by the spouse (50%) and the children of both (50%). Spouses are subject to a PA inheritance tax rate of 0% and children, 4.5%. This means that if the house is worth 100K, 65K passes to the spouse but is taxed at 0% and the spouse will therefore pay no inheritance tax. 35K passes to the children and is taxed at a lineal rate of 4,5%. Permissible deductions may apply to further reduce tax liability. I suggest you meet with an attorney to prepare the inheritance tax return.

Can my brother force the sale of my mother’s house?

Q: My mother is in a nursing home. Before that I was her caregiver. I am still her power of attorney. I still live in my childhood home and have started a family of my own. My brother just got out of prison and wants the house. He only lived in the house for one year and never paid even one bill. I used my retirement from a previous job to pay off the house and I’ve paid every bill for almost 10 years. My mother has 4 children in total and everyone else has started a family and lives elsewhere. Does my brother have any rights? Can he force my family out of the house? Can he even try to sell without permission from me and the rest of my siblings? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: What does your mother’s will say? I am assuming your father is not alive. If your mother is competent, she can sign a will which leaves the house to you. If your mother has a will which leaves everything to the children equally, you may not get to keep the house and be forced to buy your siblings out if you want to keep it. The same result could happen if she has no will, under PA intestate succession law. If the sale of the house would be the result, you have a good argument to recoup your investment in it from the proceeds of the sale. I would consult with a lawyer as soon as possible and before your mother’s condition digresses.

What happens to my grandfather’s assets if no will?

Q: He had a wife. My father is his only child, but the wife has 4 adult children. I read that step children aren’t considered kids in TN and that all his assets would have to be equal distributed between my dad (his only child) and his wife. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: When a person dies without a will, the laws of intestate succession apply. In PA, the surviving spouse takes the first $30,000.00 and the balance of the estate is divided between her and the children born to both of them. (their biological children)

If my father is in a nursing home and dies what will become of his financial assets?

Q: My father is sick and is no longer able to take care of himself. He moved in with his sister in Ohio. He has saved money to leave for his children but did not make a will and not understanding are willing to make one. What can we do as a family to secure his money? (Moon, Twp.)

A: With no will, his assets will pass to his spouse or spouse and/or children, depending on Ohio intestate law. If your father enters a nursing home and it turns out that he does not have sufficient funds to pay for his care, he, or his next of kin or guardian, on his behalf, may have to apply for Medicaid. If that should happen, all transfers (sales, gifts, etc.) from him to others within 5 years prior to his Medicaid application, done without consideration, may make him ineligible for Medicaid. Before you have him enter a facility, I advise you to speak with an experienced elder law or estate attorney.


Am I entitled to my deceased mom’s share of my deceased grandma’s estate?

Q: My grandma died 8 years ago and named my aunt the executor of her estate. My grandma’s house remains unsold. My mom died 6 months ago and I am her only child. When the house is sold, am I entitled to my mom’s share of the proceeds from the house sale? Or does it go to the only remaining surviving children? I don’t know if there is a will.

A: It depends. If your mother was an heir of her mother by intestate succession or an heir in her mother’s will, then, if you were an intestate heir or an heir named in your mother’s will, you may inherit the house or a portion of it. However, I nor any other attorney can answer this properly without knowing all of the facts. I suggest you consult with an attorney and do it now. If this house is just sitting there and no one has paid inheritance tax on it, there could be problems.