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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: July 22, 2020 08:56 AM
From: Representative Joanna E. McClinton and Rep. Greg Rothman
To: All House members
Subject: Estranged Parent’s Claim on an Adult Child’s Estate
All too often, individuals, particularly young adults, pass away without a will. In Pennsylvania, when a person dies intestate (without a will), Title 20 lays out the framework for inheritance purposes. If an individual dies without a spouse or children, the estate is divided amongst the deceased person’s parents. However, current law largely does not consider the complexities of familial relationships in today’s world.
While there is an exception to a parent’s stake in a minor or dependent child’s estate when the parent has not supported the child prior to their death, current law is silent on estranged parents of older adult children. In one case, a man was murdered, and his estranged father, who had little to no contact with the son during his life, is currently making a claim on his estate. This is opening old wounds for the deceased man’s family, as they try to grieve the loss of their loved one, while battling in court over his estate. This should not happen.
Our legislation will specifically create an exception for an estranged parent’s claim on an adult child’s estate when they die intestate. A court would be required to take into account the relationship between the adult child and the parent, including the nature and duration of the relationship and the conduct of the parent before and after the child’s death, before determining how an estate will be divided. If a court finds the parent to be estranged, they will have no right or claim in the adult child’s real or personal estate.
This small, but necessary change will hopefully spare countless families from the pain described above. We invite all of our colleagues to sign on as co-sponsors.

Introduced as HB2858