Mar 25, 2022
Is there an inheritance tax in Texas?
While there may not be an inheritance tax in Texas, your estate may be subject to the federal estate tax...read on to find out more.
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.
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.
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.
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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