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Dying without a will can cause chaos for survivors

Florida has specific rules in place for those who pass away without a will, a situation known as dying intestate. In these cases, state laws determine the fate of your estate, potentially leading to unintended outcomes.

Creating a will ensures that your asset distribution is according to your wishes after your passing.

Intestate succession

In the absence of a will, Florida’s laws dictate the distribution of assets through intestate succession. Spouses, children, parents and other relatives may be eligible to receive to a share of the deceased’s estate. Familial relationships determine the hierarchy of inheritance.

Disputes may arise over who inherits what, leading to strained relationships. The lack of clear guidance often fuels disagreements among family members, causing emotional distress during an already challenging time.

Spousal rights

In Florida, if a spouse survives the deceased and there are no descendants, the spouse gets to the entire estate. If there are descendants, the spouse may inherit half, with the remaining portion distributed among the children.

Descendants’ claims

If there are surviving children but no spouse, the children divide the estate. In cases where both spouses and descendants exist, they share the estate, with the surviving spouse potentially receiving a larger portion.

No spouse or descendants

In situations where there are no surviving spouses or descendants, the estate passes to the deceased’s parents. If parents are also deceased, the estate continues to ascend the familial hierarchy, reaching siblings and their descendants.

Unclaimed property

In the absence of eligible heirs, the estate may revert to the state, meaning the government becomes the rightful owner of the deceased’s assets. Florida’s Department of Financial Services oversees the process of identifying and managing unclaimed property.

Guardianship for minor children

When minor children have no surviving parents, the court appoints a guardian. This individual assumes responsibility for the children’s well-being, including financial matters, until they reach the age of majority.

Make your wishes known

While intestate succession provides a framework, it may not align with individual preferences. A will provides clarity, minimizes family disputes and allows you to designate guardians for minor children. Documenting your wishes ensures a smoother transition and peace of mind for your loved ones.

FindLaw Network

Many Family Law situations can have a big impact on your future.

Don’t forget to update your estate plan.