Navigating Proposed Legislative Changes to Pennsylvania’s Inheritance Tax: What You Need to Know

Posted May 29, 2024

  • Navigating Proposed Legislative Changes to Pennsylvania’s Inheritance Tax: What You Need to Know

Inheritance tax can be a daunting subject, often evoking concerns about the financial implications of passing on one’s estate. In Pennsylvania, recent proposals to modify the state’s inheritance tax laws have garnered the attention of the Commonwealth’s Legislature. The proposed changes aim to alleviate some of the burdens currently imposed on beneficiaries and create a more equitable tax system. Here, we delve into the proposed changes, their potential impact, and what this could mean for residents of the Keystone State.

Understanding Pennsylvania’s Current Inheritance Tax

Before diving into the proposed changes, it’s important to understand how Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax currently operates. The state imposes an inheritance tax on the value of a deceased person’s estate transferred to their heirs. The tax rates vary based on the beneficiary’s relationship to the decedent:

  • 0% for transfers to a surviving spouse, to a parent from a child aged 21 or younger, or from a parent to a child aged 21 or younger.
  • 4.5% for transfers to direct descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.).
  • 12% for transfers to siblings.
  • 15% for transfers to other heirs, such as nieces, nephews, and friends.

These rates can create a significant financial burden on beneficiaries, particularly those who are not immediate family members.

The Proposed Change

The change being considered by the Legislature will allow for the first $100,000.00 of a decedent’s estate to be exempt from inheritance tax implications regardless of the relationship between the beneficiary and the decedent.

Potential Impacts of the Changes

The proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax could have far-reaching impacts, especially for smaller estates, or estates that would otherwise be nearly insolvent.

Financial Relief for Families

Limiting inheritance taxes to transfers exceeding $100,000.00 could provide substantial financial relief, allowing more wealth to stay within families and supporting generational financial stability.

Encouragement of In-State Wealth Retention

By reducing the tax burden, Pennsylvania may become a more attractive state for retirees and wealthy individuals, potentially retaining more wealth within the state and stimulating local economies.

Increased Complexity for Estate Planning

While the changes aim to simplify the tax process, the transition period could introduce complexity. Beneficiaries and estate planners will need to stay informed about the latest developments to effectively navigate the new landscape.

What’s Next?

The proposed changes are under consideration by the Finance committee and may undergo further modifications before any implementation. Residents should stay informed and consider consulting with estate planning professionals to understand how these changes might affect their individual circumstances.

For those currently dealing with estate planning or facing inheritance tax issues, keeping abreast of these developments is crucial. The potential easing of tax burdens could provide new opportunities for financial planning and preserving family wealth.


The proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax laws represent a significant shift in the tax regime that would benefit all Pennsylvanians, and more specifically, those that have smaller estates to pass on to loved ones. While the legislative process will ultimately determine the final form of these changes, the proposals offer a glimpse into a potentially more favorable future for beneficiaries. As always, staying informed and proactive in estate planning will be key to maximizing the benefits of these developments.

Stay tuned for updates as this proposal moves through the legislative process and consider contacting my office if you have any questions regarding the potential impacts of this legislation.

About the Author:

Bill Hutcheson works with clients to ensure that their wishes are carried out after their passing. His experience includes drafting wills, powers of attorney, and living wills. Bill is keen on preparing a comprehensive estate plan that is custom-tailored for each client’s own unique situation, which he achieves through various non-probate planning tools. He often draws upon his experience and knowledge as an investment professional prior to his legal career to understand the non-probate instruments his clients readily have at their disposal in preparing a comprehensive estate plan. In addition to Bill’s guidance in estate planning, he also has significant experience in administering estates upon the decedent’s passing. Bill steers Executors and Administrators through the labyrinth of state and local statutes related to the administration process. Regularly, Bill ensures the estate’s assets are properly distributed, debts are paid, and taxes are filed. Bill and his team focus heavily on the timeliness of proper filings required by an estate’s Executors, Administrators, and Trustees, as well as ensuring they meet all of their fiduciary duties and standards. Lastly, when disputes arise amongst an estate’s stakeholders, Bill defends and/or pursues the rights of his respective clients’ positions related to the estate in question.



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