Estate Matters
The Klenk Law Blog



Posted on Monday, October 20th, 2014 by Peter Klenk

Many people believe that if they are married without children, there is no need for a Will. They believe that if they die, all their assets will pass to their spouse. In Pennsylvania, that may not be true.

First let me give you some background. If you die a Pennsylvanian without having signed a Will, you are “intestate”, and the Pennsylvania Rules of Intestacy dictate who inherits your Probate Assets. Probate Assets are the things that you owned in your own name that had no beneficiary designations. Some assets, like life insurance and IRAs typically name a beneficiary. Those things pass to the beneficiary even if you have no Will. Other assets, such as real estate, bank accounts and cars typically do not have a beneficiary designation. Those are the assets that make up your Probate Estate; the assets that pass under your Will. If you have no Will, those Probate Assets pass under the Pennsylvania Rules of Intestacy.

If you died without children, married to a same-sex spouse and you have no Will, then your Probate Estate will pass as follows:

  • If you die married to your LGBT spouse, but have no surviving parents, then your spouse inherits all your assets.
  • If you die married to you LGBT spouse, but have parents that survive you, then
    • Your spouse inherits the first $30,000.00 of your Probate Estate, plus ½ of the remaining assets.
    • Your Parents inherit the other ½ of the remaining assets.

The presumption is that if you had no Will you meant to leave some of your estate for your parents’ care. This mistake can cause conflict, confusion and increase the cost of probating your estate

For example: George and Sam are married without children. Sam dies without a Will, owning a $630,000.00 home and survived by his mother. Sam had wanted George to live in the house until his death, but because he died without a Will, his mother forced the house sold. George got the first $30,000.00 and ½ the remainder and Sam’s mother took the other 1/2 remainder.

For example: Diane and Sarah are married without children. Sarah dies without a Will, owning several large investment accounts that have no beneficiary designation, and survived by her parents. The parents are divorced and dislike one another and neither parent cares for Diane. Both parents and Diane petition the Philadelphia Register of Wills to serve as the Administrator. Expensive litigation lasting months could follow at this point.

Both of these scenarios are avoided easily with a Will.

For example: The same George and Sam are married without children. Sam dies with a Will that gives all of his assets to Sam. Sam inherits the $630,000.00 home and George’s mother has no claim to the estate.

For example: The same Diane and Sarah are married without children. Sarah dies with a Will that gives each of her parents $20,000.00 and the remainder of her estate to Diane. The Will names Diane as the executor. Diane then files the Will, is named executor and the feuding parents have no claim to serve as executor. She gives the parents each a check for $20,000.00 and they have no further interest in the estate.

Having a Will completely avoids the Pennsylvania Rules of Intestacy. If you are in a same-sex marriage, don’t let Pennsylvania determine where your assets pass, have our firm memorialize your wishes in a well drafted Will.

If you have questions about estate planning for LGBT couples, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Wills, Trusts and Estates, It’s all we do!

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Posted on Monday, October 20th, 2014 by Peter Klenk

Many people believe that if they are married without children, there is no need for a Will. They believe that if they die, all their assets will pass to their spouse. In New Jersey, that may not be true.

First let me give you some background. If you die a resident of New Jersey without having signed a Will, you are “intestate”, and the New Jersey Rules of Intestacy dictate who inherits your Probate Assets. Read more »

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Posted on Friday, October 17th, 2014 by Peter Klenk

Question: As the Executor, if I sell my mother’s Chester County home, do I have to pay the Pennsylvania probate tax before dividing up the sale proceeds with my siblings?


First, let’s clarify a few things. In Pennsylvania the “probate tax” is the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax. Because the estate is being divided up between the mother’s children, that rate is 4.5% on the date of death value of her entire taxable estate. The house is included in that taxable estate. Read more »

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Posted on Thursday, October 16th, 2014 by Peter Klenk

Question: My son’s Godparents both died in Philadelphia with a will and a Revocable Living Trust and the executor will not give me a copy. How do I get a copy of the will and the Revocable Living Trust?


First, the father needs to understand the documents he is requesting. The Will is the document that is filed with the Philadelphia Register of Wills and which then dictates where the deceased’s assets pass after death. Read more »

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Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 by Peter Klenk

Question: My father died over two years ago and the executor has not yet sold the Brigantine house and will not return my calls, what can I do?


The executor is a fiduciary, with an obligation to follow the terms of the Will.

First, the beneficiary should examine the Will. Does the Will give any specific instructions concerning the house? Klenk Law often states in the Wills they draft that real estate “shall be sold”, to be clear that the executor needs to move forward selling the property. Read more »

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Posted on Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 by Peter Klenk

Beneficiaries of Philadelphia County estates will often approach us asking our help in keeping an eye on the estate’s executor. This is often the result of the executor not sharing information about the estate with the beneficiary, the executor’s unreasonable delays, or when the executor’s behavior has raised the beneficiary’s concern.

When we are asked about what steps a beneficiary can take to keep an eye on the executor, I will outline various options, such as: Read more »

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Posted on Monday, October 13th, 2014 by Peter Klenk

Beneficiaries of Philadelphia County estates will often approach us asking our help in keeping an eye on the estate’s executor. This is often the result of the executor not sharing information about the estate with the beneficiary, the executor’s unreasonable delays, or when the executor’s behavior has raised the beneficiary’s concern.

When we are asked about what steps a beneficiary can take to keep an eye on the executor, I will outline various options, such as: Read more »

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Posted on Monday, October 13th, 2014 by Peter Klenk

Beneficiaries of Camden County estates will often approach us asking our help in keeping an eye on the estate’s executor. This is often the result of the executor not sharing information about the estate with the beneficiary, the executor’s unreasonable delays, or when the executor’s behavior has raised the beneficiary’s concern.

When we are asked about what steps a beneficiary can take to keep an eye on the executor, I will outline various options, such as: Read more »

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Posted on Sunday, October 12th, 2014 by Peter Klenk

Beneficiaries of Bucks County estates will often approach us asking our help in keeping an eye on the estate’s executor. This is often the result of the executor not sharing information about the estate with the beneficiary, the executor’s unreasonable delays, or when the executor’s behavior has raised the beneficiary’s concern.

When we are asked about what steps a beneficiary can take to keep an eye on the executor, I will outline various options, such as: Read more »

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Posted on Sunday, October 12th, 2014 by Peter Klenk

Beneficiaries of Delaware County estates will often approach us asking our help in keeping an eye on the estate’s executor. This is often the result of the executor not sharing information about the estate with the beneficiary, the executor’s unreasonable delays, or when the executor’s behavior has raised the beneficiary’s concern.

When we are asked about what steps a beneficiary can take to keep an eye on the executor, I will outline various options, such as: Read more »

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