My Parent Remarried. Will the New Spouse Inherit Everything?
Sept. 21, 2022
The remarriage of a parent can sometimes be stressful for the kids. Even if you are happy that your parent moved on and found a new spouse, the remarriage may trigger a number of questions. One of them is, “Will the new spouse inherit everything now that my parent is remarried?”
Can the remarriage of a parent affect the inheritance rights of children from a previous relationship or marriage? That is a tricky question to answer because everyone’s situation is different. You may want to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss your parent’s remarriage and inheritance rights.
At Luvara Law Group LLC, our attorneys are dedicated to helping clients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the neighboring areas address their concerns regarding inheritance rights. From our office in Pittsburgh, we also serve clients in New Castle, Washington, Greensburg, Uniontown, and Waynesburg.
Dying Without a Will in Pennsylvania
Dying without a will is referred to as “dying intestate” in Pennsylvania and other states. Contrary to popular belief, intestate succession does not mean that the state will inherit everything when a person dies without a will. Instead, probate courts in Pennsylvania follow the laws of intestate succession to distribute the decedent’s property to their heirs.
Intestate succession laws are designed to protect the inheritance rights of the surviving spouse and children. If your parent dies after remarriage and their new spouse is not your parent, getting a fair share may become more complicated. However, it does not mean that you, as a child, do not have inheritance rights just because the surviving spouse of your parent is not your parent.
Pennsylvania Intestate Succession Law
If you want to understand your inheritance rights under Pennsylvania’s intestate succession law, you need to know which assets are subject to succession when a person dies without a will. Intestate succession law only affects the assets that pass through probate. Examples of assets that do not go through probate and will not be subject to intestate succession laws include:
Assets transferred into a living trust
Securities held in transfer-on-death accounts
Funds in retirement accounts and life insurance proceeds with a named beneficiary
Property owned with other individuals in tenancy by entirety or joint tenancy
Real estate with a transfer-on-death deed
Automobiles with a transfer-on-death registration
The assets above will pass to the named beneficiary or surviving co-owner of the asset if a person who owns them passes away.
Will a Decedent’s Spouse Inherit Everything if There Are Surviving Children From a Previous Relationship?
As a child of a parent who has recently remarried or passed away after marrying someone who is not your parent, you may wonder if you still have any inheritance rights or if the parent’s new spouse will inherit everything.
Fortunately, Pennsylvania law provides legal protections for a decedent’s children in such situations. Under the state’s intestate succession law, the surviving spouse is entitled to the first $30,000 of the decedent’s estate and 50% of the remaining estate as long as all surviving children are the surviving spouse’s children.
What if there are surviving children from a previous relationship or marriage? Under Pennsylvania law, if at least one of the surviving children is not a surviving spouse’s child, the surviving spouse will not receive the first $30,000 of the estate. In that case, the surviving spouse will receive only 50% of the estate.
Pennsylvania law provides special protections for children from previous relationships/marriages because it presumes that the deceased person’s new spouse may not care and provide for the decedent’s kids after the spouse’s death.
Get Compassionate Legal Advice
If your parent remarried, you might fear that you could be left out of your parent’s estate. In that situation, you may need to seek legal advice from an experienced estate planning attorney to navigate the intricacies of intestate succession laws in Pennsylvania. Our attorneys at Luvara Law Group LLC can address your concerns regarding your parent’s remarriage and inheritance rights. Contact our office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a case evaluation.