My cousin passed away intestate in Philadelphia., Pa. Surviving is one aunt with four living sons, my sister and me who are first cousins (our parents are deceased), and a second cousin to the deceased. The aunt has been appointed executrix. Does the aunt inherit everything, or do the cousins inherit and if so, what portion? The aunt (who is my second cousin) has contacted me regarding my and my sister's address and I am wondering why is she inherits all.
Answered on: 8/22/13, 8:08 pm by Rachel Hunter
When someone dies without a will their property is distributed as per the state intestacy laws. The preference is for assets to pass to a surviving spouse and children or lineal descendants (grandchildren, great grandchildrent and so on). If there is no spouse or lineal descendants then the law goes "up" the chain to the parents, if any, and then "over" to brothers/sisters.
You don't say who is who - when you mean aunt, do you mean your aunt or the dead cousin's aunt? Without actually sketching it out using people's names or initials, I have no idea who will inherit or in what percentage. Any probate lawyer would really need to do this in order to competently advise you.
Below are the relevant statutes; I would suggest that you sketch out on paper who died and their relationship to you and see if you can figure it out. If not, then I suggest that you consult a probate attorney who practices in the county where the estate is pending.
I doubt very much that the personal representative would inherit everything when there are other living relatives such as you and your sister and another cousin. However, the aunt's children do not inherit anything because the aunt is alive.
If I had to guess, the estate might be split in thirds - 1/3 to you and your sister, 1/3 to aunt and 1/3 to surviving cousin.
20 Pa.C.S.A. § 2103 - Shares of others than surviving spouse
The share of the estate, if any, to which the surviving spouse is not entitled, and the entire estate if there is no surviving spouse, shall pass in the following order:
(1) Issue.--To the issue of the decedent.
(2) Parents.--If no issue survives the decedent, then to the parents or parent of the decedent.
(3) Brothers, sisters, or their issue.--If no parent survives the decedent, then to the issue of each of the decedent's parents.
(4) Grandparents.--If no issue of either of the decedent's parents but at least one grandparent survives the decedent, then half to the paternal grandparents or grandparent, or if both are dead, to the children of each of them and the children of the deceased children of each of them, and half to the maternal grandparents or grandparent, or if both are dead to the children of each of them and the children of the deceased children of each of them. If both of the paternal grandparents or both of the maternal grandparents are dead leaving no child or grandchild to survive the decedent, the half which would have passed to them or to their children and grandchildren shall be added to the half passing to the grandparents or grandparent or to their children and grandchildren on the other side.
(5) Uncles, aunts and their children, and grandchildren.--If no grandparent survives the decedent, then to the uncles and aunts and the children and grandchildren of deceased uncles and aunts of the decedent as provided in section 2104(1) (relating to taking in different degrees).
(6) Commonwealth.--In default of all persons hereinbefore described, then to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
20 Pa.C.S.A. § 2104 - Rules of succession
The provisions of this chapter shall be applied to both real and personal estate in accordance with the following rules:
(1) Taking in different degrees.--The shares passing under this chapter to the issue of the decedent, to the issue of his parents or grandparents or to his uncles or aunts or to their children, or grandchildren, shall pass to them as follows: The part of the estate passing to any such persons shall be divided into as many equal shares as there shall be persons in the nearest degree of consanguinity to the decedent living and taking shares therein and persons in that degree who have died before the decedent and have left issue to survive him who take shares therein. One equal share shall pass to each such living person in the nearest degree and one equal share shall pass by representation to the issue of each such deceased person, except that no issue of a child of an uncle or aunt of the decedent shall be entitled to any share of the estate unless there be no relatives as close as a child of an uncle or aunt living and taking a share therein, in which case the grandchildren of uncles and aunts of the decedent shall be entitled to share, but no issue of a grandchild of an uncle or aunt shall be entitled to any share of the estate.
(2) Taking in same degree.--When the persons entitled to take under this chapter other than as a surviving spouse are all in the same degree of consanguinity to the decedent, they shall take in equal shares.
(3) Whole and half blood.--Persons taking under this chapter shall take without distinction between those of the whole and those of the half blood.
(4) After-born persons; time of determining relationships.--Persons begotten before the decedent's death but born thereafter, shall take as if they had been born in his lifetime.
(5) Source of ownership.--Real estate shall pass under this chapter without regard to the ancestor or other relation from whom it has come.
(6) Quantity of estate.--Any person taking real or personal estate under this chapter shall take such interest as the decedent had therein.
(7) Tenancy in estate.--When real or personal estate or shares therein shall pass to two or more persons, they shall take it as tenants in common, except that if it shall pass to a husband and wife they shall take it as tenants by the entireties.
(8) Alienage.--Real and personal estate shall pass without regard to whether the decedent or any person otherwise entitled to take under this chapter is or has been an alien.
(9) Person related to decedent through two lines.--A person related to the decedent through two lines of relationship shall take one share only which shall be the larger share.
(10) Requirement that heir survive decedent for five days.--Any person who fails to survive the decedent by five days shall be deemed to have predeceased the decedent for purposes of intestate succession and the decedent's heirs shall be determined accordingly. If the time of death of the decedent or of a person who would otherwise be an heir, or the times of death of both, cannot be determined, and it cannot be established that the person who would otherwise be an heir survived the decedent by five days, that person shall be deemed to have failed to survive for the required period. This section shall not be applied where its application would result in a taking by the Commonwealth under section 2103(6) (relating to shares of others than surviving spouse).
(11) Intestacy following valid prior estate.--In the event of an intestacy occurring at the termination of a valid prior estate, the identity and shares of the intestate heirs then entitled to take shall be ascertained as though the death of the testator, settlor or grantor had occurred at the time of the termination of the prior estate.
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