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What are the Florida rules of intestacy for non-spouses?

Every Florida resident has an estate plan, whether they know it or not. An estate plan can be established by a will and other estate planning documents. In the absence of these, another estate plan comes into effect: Florida's laws of intestate succession. About a month ago, we discussed how these laws provide for a person's spouse if the person dies without a will. This blog post will briefly describe how others are provided for if there is no spouse of if the spouse does not take the entire estate under the laws of intestacy.

Under Florida law, this property goes to the person's children, grandchildren and other descendants. If the person has no descendants, the estate and assets then go to the person's parents. If the person also has no living parents, the property goes to the person's siblings and descendants of dead siblings. If there are also none of these, the property is then divided in half. Half goes to the maternal grandparents or their survivors, the other half goes to the paternal grandparents or their survivors. In the absence of these, each half of the property goes to aunts and uncles on each side. The rules continue in this vein, leaving property to increasingly distant relatives or even in-laws. Finally, if there is no one left to leave property to, the property goes to the state of Florida.

Many Sunshine State residents might prefer not to leave property to extremely distant relatives they may not know or be close to. They may want to leave property to a house of worship, college or other institution. They may also want to remember a favorite aunt, uncle or cousin in a will, even if they have closer relatives still living.

Here is where having a will is useful. Wills can be used to provide for these beneficiaries and more. Florida estate planning attorneys can advise clients on strategies to help fulfill their estate planning goals.

Source: The 2017 Florida Statutes, "732.103 Share of other heirs.," accessed on Dec. 11, 2017

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