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Florida Intestate Succession Laws Explained

Intestate succession is the process of distributing property that was not properly devised by a will. Here are the intestate succession laws that apply to Floridians;

Florida Intestate Succession Laws Explained

What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Florida?

When a Florida resident passes away without a valid will, the state has its own laws that determine how the deceased’s estate will be administered. This is known as the intestate succession laws.

Properly planning an estate and writing a valid will allows you and your loved ones to ensure that your assets are distributed to who you see fit, instead of leaving things in the hands of the state. If a will is not established, the state will make all of the decisions, from who gets what assets to how the decedent will be buried. Verbal agreements and family wishes are irrelevant, since the court will follow Florida’s intestate succession laws to the letter.

How Intestate Succession Laws Work In Florida

Intestate succession is covered under sections §732.101 to §732.111, Florida Statutes which details how assets will be provided in the event that no will is available. Estate executors should understand the hierarchy Florida intestate laws follow in order to prepare themselves and the family for the upcoming process.

When there is no will, the probate court will nominate an estate executor. This is usually the next of kin. The executor must then oversee the distribution of the estate according to the line of succession followed by the Florida court. At the top of the list of heirs is the surviving spouse. So long as the marriage was certified and officially sanctioned in the state of Florida, the spouse will inherit all assets if there are no children of the deceased. When children are involved, even if they're from a previous marriage, they are entitled to 50% of the estate.

Breakdown of Intestate Succession Laws in Florida:

  • If the deceased had a spouse and no children: The spouse inherits 100% of the estate;
  • If the deceased has a spouse and children related to the spouse: The spouse inherits 100% of the estate;
  • If the deceased had a spouse and children from another relationship: The spouse inherits 50% of the estate, the children get the other half;
  • If the deceased had living parents but no spouse or children: The parents inherit 100% of the estate;
  • If the deceased had no spouse, children, or living parents but had siblings: The siblings inherit 100% of the estate
  • If there are no siblings, then the court goes further down the family tree until the next living relative is found.

Are Any Assets Exempt From Intestate Succession?

Exempt assets include those that have designated beneficiaries attached to them. IRAs, 401Ks, and other retirement accounts can name beneficiaries who inherit the funds upon the owner's passing. Jointly held property or accounts are also exempt, skipping probate entirely and instead automatically transferring sole ownership to the surviving party.

A large majority of financial accounts, from common bank accounts to long-term investment vehicles, will allow the owner to designate beneficiaries. Verifying that each account is set up properly is key for estate planning and makes the role of estate executor simpler. Wills, trusts and designated beneficiaries help reduce the need for probate.

Planning Around Florida Intestate Succession

For many of us, there are certain wishes we want fulfilled after we pass away, including how we wish to be buried and how we wish our dependents to be taken care of. Intestate succession laws leave these decisions up to the state of Florida.

Proper estate planning with an experienced team can make a world of difference, ensuring that your wishes are met and your assets are distributed the way you’ve envisioned. Don't wait for the state to make these decisions for you. Contact us today for a free consultation to get started on an estate plan, including a legally valid will, that benefits you and your loved ones.

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