Many often come to us here at Burandt Adamski Feichthaler & Sanchez PLLC questioning what would happen if they were to die without a will. If you are like many of them, you may assume that your heirs would be given the right to decide amongst themselves how to divide up your assets. Yet this could introduce the potential for serious discord. Thus, the state has set up guidelines that dictate what happens with your estate if you die intestate (without a will).
These guidelines can be found in Section 732 of Florida's Probate Code. They stipulate that if you leave a surviving spouse behind, they will be entitled to the entirety of your estate if you have no surviving descendants (or if your descendants are also those of your spouse). If you have descendants who are not the issue of your spouse, then your spouse will receive half of your estate, with the other half being divided equally amongst your descendants.
If your spouse precedes you in death, then your intestate estate passes in the following order:
- Your descendants
- Your parents
- Your siblings
- Your grandparents (with both your paternal and maternal sides receiving an equal portion)
- Your next of kin
- Any of your spouse's descendants that are not biologically related to you
One thing that you will notice is that no allowances are made to anyone not related to you. Thus, your friends, charitable organizations or any other outside party that you might want to benefit from your estate would not be entitled to anything under these guidelines. It is for this reason that you want to create your own estate instruments for the court to enforce.
You can learn more about the probate administration process by continuing to explore our site.