What happens if you don't have a will?

An administrator can be appointed by the Register of Wills to handle the administration of the estate of a person who dies without a will. The Pennsylvania Probate Code enumerates the individuals or institutions entitled to administer an estate of a person who has died without a will. The decedent's estate is then distributed according to the Rules of Intestate Succession. The Intestate Laws name the beneficiaries and the amount to which each beneficiary is entitled. The Rules of Intestate Succession may not comport with the wishes of the decedent regarding the distribution of his assets.

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1. What is a will?
2. Should everyone have a will?
3. Is my will on file with the Register of Wills?
4. What happens if you don't have a will?
5. When is a will effective?
6. Must a will be witnessed?
7. When should a will be changed?
8. If I am named in a will, can I simply assume responsibilities to carry out the terms of the will?
9. If a short certificate is needed to liquidate or receive certain assets of a decedent, can I purchase one from the Register of Wills?
10. Does a valid will avoid Pennsylvania Inheritance Taxes?
11. Must a lawyer write a will?