Married With No Wills

Q: I am married and my wife and I do not have wills. We heard that not having wills doesn’t really matter to us as we would inherit from each other anyway under PA law. Is this true?

A: This is true if the deceased spouse and you have no surviving child or the deceased spouse has no surviving parent. When a person dies without a will, his or her probate estate passes in accordance with the laws of intestate (no will) succession. Under PA intestate law, if one spouse dies and is survived by a child (who is also the child of the surviving spouse) or a parent, any property of the deceased spouse that would pass through his or her estate will pass to his surviving spouse and a portion of it will also be shared by his surviving child, or if none, a surviving parent. If you are married and have a child or living parents, the only way to make certain that you and your wife inherit from each other is to have husband and wife joint wills prepared by an attorney.