If you die intestate (without a last will and testament), will your same-sex spouse be considered a “spouse” for purposes of inheritance?
by Mercedes Bugallo (Summer Associate)
Yes. One of the effects of the Whitewood decision is that same-sex spouses are considered a “spouse” for purposes of Pennsylvania’s intestate succession process. A person domiciled in Pennsylvania who dies without a will is said to have died “intestate” and his or her estate is divided according to Pennsylvania’s intestate succession laws. The existence of surviving children or parents will affect the amount of the estate and other property to which the same-sex spouse is entitled. If the deceased left no children or parents, then the surviving spouse inherits everything. Importantly, property inherited from a spouse is exempt from Pennsylvania’s estate tax.
For more detailed information, please refer to this chart, located on the Allegheny Register of Wills’ website: http://www.alleghenycounty.us/wo/probate/intestate.pdf