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What Happens When You Die Without a Will in Florida?

January 29, 2021 by in Elder Law

A Last Will and Testament is a formal legal document stating how you want your assets distributed when you pass away and who will be in charge of administering your estate. This important document helps make sure that your estate is handled according to your wishes.  However, in Florida, what happens if you die without a Will? Dying without a Will is known as dying intestate. Each state has laws governing this situation, and your estate will be distributed among your heirs according to Florida’s laws of intestate succession. A Melbourne probate attorney can help explain this law to you if you are considering whether you need a Will or not, or if a loved one passed away without a Will and you are trying to figure out how to handle the estate.

Intestate Succession in Florida

In general, Florida law provides that a deceased individual’s (decedent) estate will pass in the following order based on who is alive at the time of the decedent’s death: spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, children of deceased siblings. Who will inherit will depend on the specific facts of the decedent’s specific situation. Sometimes interpreting the Florida intestate code as applied to a decedent’s specific case can be complicated. If you are unsure about who should inherit your loved one’s estate if they died without a Will, our Melbourne probate attorney can answer your questions.

Sample Intestate Scenarios

Scenario #1

If you die without a Will and are married at the time of your death (and this is the first marriage),  your spouse will inherit your estate. However, suppose you have children from a previous marriage or relationship. In that case, your spouse will inherit half of your estate, and your children of the prior marriage or relationship (as well as any children from the current marriage) will inherit the remaining half in equal shares.

Scenario #2

If you pass away without a Will, without a spouse, and without any children, then your surviving parent or parents will inherit your estate.  If you do not have any living parents, your siblings will inherit your estate in equal shares. If a sibling is deceased, then your sibling’s children (your nieces and/or nephews) will inherit that sibling’s share.  

Scenario #3

If none of your heirs can be tracked down who are eligible to inherit your property, then your estate will be transferred to the state, meaning that the government inherits your property. To avoid a situation like this or various other situations that you may not want to occur, it is important to speak with an experienced Melbourne probate attorney to ensure that your estate will pass according to your wishes. 

Next Step: Contact a Melbourne Probate Attorney at Lacey Lyons Rezanka Today

If you pass away without a Will but have an estate, your assets will pass according to Florida’s intestate succession law. Unfortunately, Florida’s version of your “Will” may not be what you want. Speak with an experienced Melbourne probate attorney at Lacey Lyons Rezanka today for an estate planning consultation. Contact us for assistance with preparing the documents necessary to transfer your assets at your death according to your wishes.

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