Before we delve into deeper depths of Florida Intestate Succession, let’s give you a heads up on intestacy. Intestacy is a legislative will that is governed by the Florida Statue §732.101. The most common purpose of intestacy arises when any person dies without a will. However, intestacy can also exist in case you die with a will but your will does not dispose of all your assets, and/or if you will does not have a residuary clause. Intestacy can also exist if your will isn’t executed properly and you have no other will to take care of matters. Last but not the least, intestacy can also be evoked if your will is old but a new relative comes into the picture since the writing of the will.
While most states would make things difficult for your successors, Florida’s intestate laws are keen on accommodating your relatives and managing your assets, in case you die without a will. Here’s an insight on intestacy in Florida:
What Happens If You Die Without A Will?
In Florida, if you die without a will, all your assets will be passed on to your closest of relatives under the state intestate succession laws.
Which Assets Pass The Intestate Succession?
All those assets which would have passed through your legal, official will will be affected by the intestate succession laws. These usually involve just the assets that you own as an individual; the assets in your name alone. A number of valuable assets don’t actually go by through your will and hence aren’t affected by the intestate succession laws. Here is a list of those assets:
- Proceeds from life insurance
- Retirement account funds
- Funds in IRA
- Funds in 401(k)
- Property transferred to a living trust
- Securities being held in a transfer on death account
- Payable on death bank account
- Property owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by entirety
Whether or not you have an official will, the assets in the above mentioned list will immediately and directly pass on to the surviving co-owner or to the beneficiary named by you. In case you want to learn more about such assets and their succession, you can read up more on Florida intestate probate laws.
Who Will Get What?
The one who gets what clause depends entirely on whether or not you have children, living parents and/or close relatives when you die. Let’s give you a quick overview of who will receive what:
- If you die with children but do not have a spouse, your children will inherit everything that passes
- If you die with a spouse but no descendants then your spouse will inherit everything
- If you die with a spouse and descendants from you and your spouse, your spouse inherits everything, given that the spouse has no other descendants
- If you die with a spouse and descendants from you and your spouse and the spouse also have descendants from another relationship then your spouse inherits half of your intestate property while your descendants inherit the other half
- If you die with a spouse but descendants from another spouse and you, your spouse inherits half of your property while your descendants inherit the other half
- If you die without a spouse or descendants but have parents then your parents inherit everything
- If you die without a spouse, descendants or parents but you have siblings then your siblings will inherit everything on your intestate property
Florida Inheritance Laws Spouse
As per the Florida inheritance laws, in case you are married and you die without a will, what your spouse will receive depends on whether or not you have descendants (children, grandchildren or great grandchildren in that matter). In case you don’t have any living descendants, your spouse will inherit everything from your intestate property. However if you have living descendants, what your spouse inherits is as follows:
- If you die with children and/or other descendants from you and your spouse, your spouse inherits everything, given that he/she does not have any other descendants/children from another relationship.
- If your spouse has other descendants from another relationship, along with children/descendants with you, then you spouse will inherit only half of your property whereas the other half will be received by your descendants/children.
- In case you die with descendants from another spouse rather than your surviving spouse (e.g., children from your ex-spouse) then your current spouse inherits half of your property whereas your descendants inherit the other half.
Florida Inheritance Laws Children
A will means that your children will receive their rightful intestate share from your property. The size of what each child will receive will depend on the number of children you have. In Florida, your immediate family doesn’t usually have any confusing issues but that’s not always the case. Here’s how things work:
- Adopted Children: all children you have legally adopted will receive intestate share just like your biological children
- Foster Children and Stepchildren: if you have not adopted your foster children and/or stepchildren, they will not receive any share
- Children Placed For Adoption: if you placed any of your children for adoption and they were adopted legally by another family, they will not receive any share.
- Posthumous Children: children conceived by you but not born before your death will also receive a share
- Children Born Outside Of Marriage: in case you weren’t married but you had children outside your marriage, your children will only receive a share of your estate in case a) you participated in a marriage ceremony that was void, b) the court can establish your paternity, c) you acknowledge the paternity in writing.
- Grandchildren: your grandchildren will only receive a share of your intestate property if their parent died before you
In case you don’t have a spouse or children/descendants and your parents are alive, they are entitled to 100% of your estate. In case your parents are dead but you have surviving siblings, then your siblings inherit your intestate property.
The most important thing to remember here is that with probate only a certain type of property actually qualifies for intestate succession. Some assets might not be affected by the intestate laws such as your life insurance policies or your retirement funds accounts. These assets go directly to the beneficiaries that you have named or your surviving co-owners.
In case if any or all relatives were involved in the murder of the decedent, the Florida intestate laws automatically disqualifies the relative/relatives from collecting any sort of inheritance. The persecution of the relatives is the matter of the court. The Florida inheritance laws have no business whatsoever in the proceedings of the court and execution of those involved in the murder.
Can The State Get Your Property?
This happens rarely but in case you die without a legal will and you don’t have any family or surviving descendants, then your property will automatically be placed into the state’s coffers. This is a rare situation as mentioned but has certainly occurred at times. However the state first ensures it has tried all means of discovering people who were even remotely related to you in any way.
Who Else If Not Immediate Family?
Here are others who can be liable to inherit your property in case you don’t have any surviving relatives or descendants after you die:
- Half Relatives: your half relatives will then inherit everything as a Whole relative would in case you don’t have any surviving whole family. If you share a father or a mother, your siblings will have the same right to your property as your other siblings with whom you shared both parents
- Posthumous Relatives: all relatives conceived before your death but born afterwards will inherit everything as if they were born before your death.
- Immigration Status: in case your relatives are immigrants or have immigrant status, outside of the United States of America, will inherit everything regardless of whether they are citizens here or legally residing in the USA.
In short, an intestate estate creates a great deal of strife amongst all family members over who should and who shouldn’t be inheriting your property. The intestacy laws in Florida seek to equally distribute the inheritance and also govern the distribution of all the assets in case you die without a will or under any other circumstances mentioned above. Florida Inheritance Laws have been designed in the best interests of your family and you so that a comprehensive estate plan can be created to ensure that your estate is handled exactly the way you might have wanted it to after your death (in case you didn’t get time to write a legal will).
In case you want to know anything more about intestate laws and Florida inheritance laws, we can be of help to you at all times. You can write to us or talk to us at Probate Solutions FL (Home Solutions Fla LLC). We seek to accommodate you in all means we can.