Important Things to Know About Probate &Inheritance Laws in Pennsylvania

Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience that no one wants to go through. When this happens, you must administer the deceased person’s estate to ensure the beneficiaries get what is stated in the will. However, there are various laws and regulations regarding estate administration and what constitutes a valid will in Pennsylvania.

For instance, Pennsylvania still imposes an inheritance tax, and inheritance laws are fairly standard. It is then critical to engage a lawyer for probate administration to oversee the entire state administration process.

A look at Probate &Inheritance Laws in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has an inheritance tax. That is levied on the specific inheritances for each beneficiary. But, in the case of joint property by the deceased, the inheritance isn’t included in the tax. There is no estate tax in the state or state gift tax. The rate of inheritance tax ranges from 4.5% to 15%, which depends on the prevailing situation. Here is what you will have to do as inheritance tax in Pennsylvania;

  • 0% tax on inheritances to a spouse or inheritances to a parent from a child under 21.
  • 4.5% tax inheritance for children and lineal heirs
  • 12% inheritances for siblings
  • 15% inheritances for any other person excluding transfers to charitable organizations or government entities.

Other tax fillings you should know.

During estate administration in Pennsylvania, there may be other necessary tax filings. These may include:

  • Federal Estate Tax Return

If the estate has a gross value above the federal estate tax exemption, you may need to fill federal estate tax return (Form 706) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

  • Pennsylvania Income Tax Return

The estate will file a Pennsylvania income tax return (Form PA-41) if it earns income during the administration process.

  • Federal Income Tax Return

 The estate may have to file a federal income tax return (Form 1041) if it earns income from the administration process.

  • Pennsylvania Realty Transfer Tax Return

 If the estate transfers real property in Pennsylvania, a Pennsylvania Realty Transfer Tax Return (Form REV-183) should be filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

  • Federal Gift Tax Return

 If the deceased made taxable gifts during their lifetime, a federal gift tax return (Form 709) should be filed with the IRS.

Laws on dying with or without a will in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has strict laws on what constitutes a valid will. At least the ill should be signed by two witnesses to indicate they were present when the deceased signed the will. For some properties, the will should include an official executor to ensure all wishes of the deceased are met.

Similarly, if one dies without a valid will, the state will label it intestate and enact laws to govern the inheritance of their assets. Most Pennsylvania inheritance laws are based on situations of intestate succession.


There are various laws and regulations concerning inheritance and state administration in Pennsylvania. Understanding them eases the probate process and avoids disputes that can delay the estate administration process. Contacting an attorney to help resolve any issues and handle the legal documentation involved is also important.

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