How Are Assets Divided When One Dies Without a Will?

Date: August 18, 2011
Posted In: DLP Law
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            Sam and Mary had been married for twenty years. Mary was Sam\’s second wife. Sam had two children from his first marriage, Jennifer and Roy. During Sam\’s second marriage he accumulated quite a number of valuable firearms including antique rifles. Sam had promised Roy all the firearms when Sam passed away. Likewise, during the second marriage, Sam had accumulated quite a few other antiques which he promised to give to his daughter, Jennifer, once he died.

            Unfortunately, Sam died without a will. Mary did not like either of her stepchildren and took the position that they were not entitled to any of the firearms or antiques since Sam had no will and all of the property should go to her.

ISSUE:          Is Mary correct?

ANSWER:     No. Since Sam died without a will, his property will be divided up according to the Intestate Laws of Pennsylvania. While Mary will be entitled to the largest share of the estate, both of Sam\’s natural children will be entitled to a percentage which will be more than enough to allow Roy to get all the guns and Jenn to get all the antiques. Fortunately Roy\’s estate was large enough to allow this kind of distribution.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive.  Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column. 

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.