WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR PROPERTY IF YOU DIE WITHOUT A WILL?

Most of us live busy lives even after retirement, and it can be easy to put off things we don’t think about often, such as planning our wills. As a result, some Miami residents may die before getting around to planning their estates. What will happen to your assets and property after your death if you don’t have a will? How would it affect your loved ones?

According to The Florida Legislature, it is called “intestacy” when a person dies without leaving a will. When this happens, the estate goes into probate. Instead of your belongings being divided among your loved ones as you’d like, the probate court would determine how your intestate property will be distributed. The following examples illustrate how your intestate property might be divided by a Florida probate court:

  • If you left behind a spouse but no children, the entire estate goes to your spouse.
  • If you have a surviving spouse and only had children together, your spouse would get the entire estate.
  • Your children inherit everything if you have children but no surviving spouse.
  • Your parents inherit the estate if you left behind one or both parents but no spouse or children, and likewise if your only remaining relatives are your siblings.
  • All assets would go to the state if you left behind no relatives at all.

Florida intestate law gets a little more complicated if your or your spouse had children from previous relationships. In this case, your spouse would get half of the estate, while the other half would go to your own descendants. Your spouse’s children would have few rights regarding your estate if you left no will behind, even if you had intended on them inheriting a portion.

As you can see, it is important to make your wishes known through solid estate planning. In this way, you would make sure your loved ones receive shares of your property, possessions and funds as you would like them to be distributed, instead of the impersonal way that a probate court would distribute them. This post is intended to provide information about intestate law, but should not be taken as legal advice.

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Written by Luis E. Barreto

Luis E. Barreto

Luis is a probate and guardianship litigator with over 23 years of experience in the field. Determination of heirs, will contests, breaches of fiduciary duty, removal of personal representatives, guardians and trustees are just some of the types of litigation he addresses. In addition, he administers non-contested estates and guardianships.