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What happens if you pass away without a will?

If you pass away without a will you will be considered to have died intestate. This means that your assets will be distributed according to Florida law. The law attempts to reflect how most people would want their estate passed, but this is not always in line with how you would want it distributed.

For example, Florida law will typically give your estate to your surviving spouse if no lineal descendants exist. Lineal descendants include your children, grandchildren and so on. However, your surviving spouse will inherit your entire estate if the living lineal descendants are lineal descendants of your living spouse, too and there are no other children. On the other hand, if your spouse is not living at the time of your death, then your children will inherit the estate.

The matter gets quite complicated in mixed families. For example, if, upon your passing, you have a living spouse and children from another marriage, then your spouse will inherit half of the estate and your children will inherit the other half. Likewise, in the event that you have no spouse, no children and no parents at the time of your passing, your siblings may inherit your estate, including half siblings, which are treated like full blood relatives.

Intestate succession is an extensively complicated matter that is just briefly touched on here. It should not be construed as any sort of legal advice, but should get you thinking about how you want your estate to pass upon your death. If your wishes are not in line with the state's laws, then you may want to create a will.

A Florida attorney can help establish an estate plan that fulfills your wishes. There are many estate planning strategies, and learning about them could give you the tools needed to leave your loved ones with exactly what you wish.

Source: Florida Statutes, "Title XLII, Probate Code: Intestate Succession And Wills," Accessed on Aug. 15, 2014

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