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Ramifications of Death Without a Will in Florida

Intestate succession of your estate

If you die without a will in Florida, your assets are distributed according to Florida’s law of intestate succession. Although that law reflects what the Florida legislature has determined to be a fair allocation of the decedent’s estate among various heirs, the legislature’s definition of “fair” might be markedly different from yours. Consult with a Florida probate attorney from Gierach and Gierach, P.A. to make sure that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes.

What property passes when there is no will?

Property and other assets such as cash and stocks in a decedent’s estate pass under Florida’s law of intestate succession. However, jointly owned property with a right of survivorship, financial accounts with transfer-on-death provisions and all pensions, annuities and insurance policies with properly designated beneficiaries are not governed by intestate succession laws because these assets are not part of a decedent’s probate estate. However, it is important to note that these items could be subject to federal estate tax, if the estate’s value is more than the exempt amount established by the U.S. Congress.

How are assets distributed without a will?

When there is no will, conflicts between beneficiaries may arise, just as they do in a contested will. To avoid litigation when there is no will, Florida inheritance laws dictate how the assets should be distributed.

When there is a surviving spouse, Florida Statute Section 732.102 states that the intestate share of the surviving spouse is:

  • Everything if there are no children
  • The first $60,000 plus half of the remaining balance of the intestate estate if there are surviving descendants of the surviving spouse
  • One-half of the intestate estate if there are surviving descendants, one of whom is not a lineal descendant of the surviving spouse

When there are heirs in addition to the surviving spouse, Florida Statute Section 732.103 sets forth the distribution of their portion as follows:

  • First, the assets go to the descendants of the decedent.
  • If there is no descendant, the estate passes to the decedent’s father and mother equally.
  • If there are neither descendants nor parents, the estate passes to the decedent’s brothers and sisters and their decedents.
  • If there are no descendants, parents or siblings of the decedent, one-half should go to the decedent’s paternal family and the other half to the decedent’s maternal family in the following order:
    • To the grandfather and grandmother equally
    • Uncles and aunts and their descendants
    • Any surviving family according to the order previously stated

If there is no direct family, then the whole of the property should go the family of the last deceased spouse of the decedent (as if the deceased spouse had survived the decedent and then died intestate, entitled to the estate).

Call for assistance from an honest and client-focused Florida wills attorney

For legal help from an experienced probate lawyer in Orlando, call Gierach and Gierach, P.A. at 407-598-8013, or contact us online today to schedule your free initial consultation. We also assist people from other states needing legal assistance in Florida.

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