What Is the Family Exemption In Pennsylvania Probate?

The family exemption is available to the surviving spouse or children (if there is no spouse) of a Pennsylvania decedent.   The family exemption is a right to retain or claim personal or real property of a decedent in the amount of (currently) $3,500.

When Is the Family Exemption Allowed In Pennsylvania?

The family exemption accrues to the spouse of a decedent.

If there is not spouse, or if the surviving spouse has forfeited his or her rights, then the family exemption accrues to the children who are members of the same household as the decedent.  If there are no such children, then the Pennsylvania family exemption accrues to the parent or parents of a decedent who are members of the same household as the decedent.

Property that is specifically devised or bequeathed by the decedent, or otherwise specifically disposed of, may not be retained or claimed of other assets are available to satisfy the family exemption.

See 20 Pa. C.S. § 3121.

What Is the Deadline To Claim the Family Exemption Under Pennsylvania Law?

The family exemption should be claimed as soon as possible after decedent’s death.  The family exemption is a personal right, and if it is not claimed within a reasonable time it can be lost or considered waived.  See key Deadlines and Timelines In Pennsylvania Probate.

How Do You Claim the Family Exemption?

Generally, a claim for the Pennsylvania family exemption can be fairly informal.  Sometimes the person claiming the family exemption can notify the executor or administrator of the estate via a letter,  The claimant can also petition the Court for property claimed as the family exemption.  See 20 Pa. C.S. § 3122.

If the claim is for specific property, it can be set aside at the values fixed by the inventory.  If the  family exemption claim is for cash, it is paid to the claimant as soon as available after the administration of the estate is begun. If the claimant has possession of tangible property that is claimed as the family exemption, he or she can retain it.

Section 3123 sets forth a procedure to claim the family exemption from real estate.

Work with your Pennsylvania probate lawyer to claim your family exemption.