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What Happens if I Die Without a Will in Florida?

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Creating a will is an essential part of estate planning, as it allows you to determine how your assets will be distributed after your passing. However, if you die without a will, also known as dying "intestate," the state's laws will dictate how your estate is distributed. In Florida, intestacy laws provide a framework for the distribution of assets when there is no valid will. In this blog post, we will explore what happens if you die without a will in Florida and how the state determines the distribution of your estate.


Intestate Succession: When you die without a will in Florida, the state's intestacy laws determine who will inherit your property. The laws outline a specific order of priority for distributing your assets, which generally follows these principles:


a. Spouse and Descendants: If you are survived by a spouse but no children or other descendants, your spouse will inherit the entire estate. If you have both a spouse and descendants, the distribution will depend on whether the descendants are from the current marriage or a previous relationship.

b. Descendants Only: If you have no surviving spouse, but you have children or other descendants, they will inherit your estate in equal shares.

c. Parents: If you have no spouse or descendants, your parents will inherit your estate in equal shares, or the surviving parent will inherit the entire estate.

d. Siblings: If you have no spouse, descendants, or parents, your siblings will inherit your estate in equal shares. If some of your siblings have predeceased you, their share will pass to their own descendants.

  1. Absence of Close Relatives: If you have no surviving spouse, descendants, parents, or siblings, your estate will be distributed to more remote relatives according to the Florida intestacy laws. The state's laws specify the order of priority, typically starting with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If no eligible relatives are found, your estate may ultimately escheat to the state of Florida.

  2. Challenges and Complexities: Dying without a will can create challenges and complexities for your loved ones, as the intestacy process may not align with your specific wishes or family dynamics. Without a will, you have no control over who receives your assets, which can lead to disputes and potential estrangement among family members.

  3. Appointing an Administrator: In the absence of a will, the court will appoint an administrator to oversee the probate process and manage the distribution of your estate. The administrator, typically a close family member or another interested party, will be responsible for gathering and valuing assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets according to Florida law.

  4. Importance of Creating a Will: Dying without a will highlights the importance of proactive estate planning. By creating a will, you have the opportunity to specify how you want your assets distributed, name guardians for minor children, and designate an executor to administer your estate. Having a will not only ensures that your wishes are followed but also simplifies the probate process and reduces the potential for family conflicts.

Dying without a will in Florida means that the state's intestacy laws (per stirpes distribution) will determine how your assets are distributed. While the intestacy laws provide a framework for distribution, they may not align with your specific wishes or family circumstances. Creating a will allows you to maintain control over the distribution of your assets and minimize potential complications for your loved ones. Consult with an attorney at Beckwith Legal to discuss your specific situation and create a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your wishes and protects your loved ones. You'd 'Better Call Beck!'

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