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What laws of intestacy apply to spouses in Florida?

Estate planning attorneys in Florida for the most part agree: It pays to have an estate plan. Wills and trusts are powerful estate planning tools for people in the Sunshine State. Without a will, a person's estate will be distributed according to Florida's laws of intestacy. These rules may work well for some Floridians; others may not find them to be consistent with their estate planning goals.

Florida's laws of intestacy specifically cover how much of a person's assets a spouse is entitled to if the person dies without a will. If the person dies with no surviving descendants, the spouse gets the entire estate. The spouse also gets the entire estate if the person and the spouse have descendants in common and no other descendants. If the person has descendants that are not in common with the surviving spouse, or if the surviving spouse has descendants not in common with the person, the surviving spouse gets half of the person's estate.

Some people may find these rules to be just fine for their estate planning goals. Others may not like them and may want to override them with a will and possibly a trust. Even if a person does not find the spousal rules to be objectionable, there may be other aspects of the laws of intestacy that do not match their plans and goals.

Florida estate planning attorneys can provide Floridians with an analysis of their estate planning situation. They can tell them how the laws of intestacy would work in their case and what options exist for substituting different rules through the use of estate planning tools.

Source: The Florida Legislature, "732.102 Spouse's share of intestate estate.," accessed on Nov. 14, 2017

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