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Daughter likely inherits right to sue over father's death

When person dies without a will in Florida, state law provides a way to distribute the person's assets to family members. The assets that make up a person's estate may include real estate, cars, personal items, money in bank accounts and just about any other kind of property. It can even include legal rights.

In one unusual recent case in a different state, a child inherited the right to sue the government after her father was killed by police. Police said the 39-year-old man unexpectedly died after they fired a stun gun at him during a confrontation at his home.

The victim's mother had been preparing to file a lawsuit against the state, alleging that the killing was a civil rights violation. However, the mother of the man's 9-year-old daughter claimed that their daughter was the rightful heir of the man's estate and the law appears to be on her side. Under the laws of their state, when an unmarried person dies without a will, the deceased's minor children inherit all the deceased's assets. The right to sue the state over the accidental death is one of the assets of the dead man's estate.

Florida laws of intestacy provide a way to distribute a person's assets to relatives if the person dies without a will. The entire estate goes to the person's spouse if the person was married and either has no descendants or has descendants with that spouse. If the person was unmarried, the estate passes to the person's descendants. If the person was not married and has no descendants, the estate passes to the person's parents. If the person has no descendants and neither parent is alive, the estate passes to the descendants of the parents -- meaning the deceased person's siblings and their descendants.

The laws of intestacy can lead to some unexpected results, as when a distant relative ends up inheriting everything. Those who wish to have greater control over how their estate is distributed should execute a will. And Florida residents who inherit from a relative should consider all the possible assets that could come with their inheritance.

Source: Valley News, "Questions Over Estate In Taser Death," Mark Davis, June 28, 2013