The death of a loved one is likely going to bring a sense of despair along with it. Once the initial shock begins to abate, you will likely realize that you now have to deal with your loved one's estate. There are three important things that anyone who is dealing with probate court after the death of an immediate family member must know. This information gives you the basic gist of how things will move forward. Of course, there are some cases that are unique, so be sure that you get specific questions answered before you proceed.
When there is a will present
If your loved one had a will when he or she died, getting the estate settled would be fairly simple. You would go through the probate process and everything will be divided according to the last will and testament. If this is what is happening after your loved one's death, you should make sure that the will is legal and that it covers everything that is important.
Without a will
If your loved one didn't have a will, that person is said to have died intestate. In this case, Pennsylvania laws would determine who is able to get what. The succession laws of the state outline who is entitled to what based on the circumstances. For example, the estate of the person who died would likely go to one's spouse if they were married when they died.
In some cases, the children of the descedent would also be included and property would have to be divided. If the person had children but wasn't married when he or she died, the estate would likely be split between the children. Intestate succession laws also govern who would be entitled to shares of the estate if the person didn't have any immediate family members.
Challenging might be possible
If there is a will present, but you think that you are entitled to a share and that isn't reflected in the will or if you think the will is invalid for another reason, you might be able to challenge the will. There are some very specific criteria for challenging a will, so you should find out if it is possible for you to challenge. Even if the will has a "no contest" clause, which is akin to a disinheritance, it is still usually possible to challenge the will as long as there is a valid and legal reason to do so.