J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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How can the laws of intestacy affect my estate's assets?

Winter Haven residents can be well-served by executing personal estate plans to ensure that the end of life wishes they have for their property and possessions are respected. However, if an individual dies without having a will, trust, or other testamentary document in place then his estate can be subject to the state's laws of intestacy. A person dies intestate when he passes away without an estate plan to guide the disposition of his assets.

If a person dies and has a spouse, under the laws of intestacy that individual's estate will pass to his spouse. If the individual does not have a spouse but does have children or grandchildren then the assets of the estate will likely pass down to those heirs.

Inheritance can become more complicated when an intestate decedent passes away with no spouse, children or grandchildren. Generally, then, the assets of the estate will pass up to the decedent's parents. If the decedent outlives his parents then the assets will pass to the descendants of the decedent's parents, who are the decedent's siblings, nieces and nephews.

The laws of intestacy effectively allow a person's estate assets to pass up his lineage of family and then down the branches, moving farther and farther away from his immediate family the fewer close relations that survive at the time of his death. Under these laws it is clear that a person's estate could pass to a remote family member with whom the decedent has no relationship. To avoid this end of life fate it can be very useful for a person to take the time to create an effective estate plan that ensures his loved ones benefit from his end of life estate.

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