A valid Last Will and Testament takes away much of the guesswork and uncertainty over inheritances when a decedent’s estate is being settled. This legal document allows the decedent to distribute property and assets to beneficiaries as he or she desires, which are not obligated to line up with Florida’s intestate laws.

Intestate laws govern the distribution of items of a decedent’s estate in the event that there was no estate-planning document communicating his or her wishes. If this is the case, then there will be a lengthy process in probate court to settle the estate. Additionally, even with a valid Will, certain assets of an estate might be subject to intestate laws.

Before You Receive an Inheritance

Regardless of whether or not an estate is covered by a Will, final federal income taxes and federal estate taxes will need to be settled by the estate. Personal representatives of Wills need to register the estate with the IRS and receive an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Luckily, there are no estate or inheritance taxes required to be paid to the state of Florida.

Passing Away With No Children

The more loved ones a decedent has when he or she passes away, the more complicated, unfortunately, the estate settling becomes. As a starting point, the decedent’s surviving spouse will generally have priority in receiving some amount of the estate. If the surviving spouse and decedent have no children, then Florida intestate laws mandate that the surviving spouse will receive the entirety of the estate. Additionally, the surviving spouse has first crack at filling the role of the estate’s personal representative. The holder of this position will generally oversee the process of settling the estate and giving beneficiaries the appropriate inheritance amount.

Passing Away With Children

Florida law states that a surviving spouse will receive the decedent’s entire estate if both spouses ONLY have children from their time together. Conversely, the children of unmarried decedents will receive the entire estate. Estates begin to be split among surviving spouses and children when either spouse has children from previous partners. If either spouse has children from a previous relationship, then the surviving spouse will receive half of the estate, while children of the deceased spouse ONLY will split the other half of the estate.

Contact Luis E. Barreto & Associates

Settling the estate of your loved one is complicated enough when there is a Will or other estate-planning document in place. So, if you and loved ones are trying to navigate the probate process without any guidance from the decedent, Florida’s complex intestate laws come into play. It is imperative to get in touch with a Florida estate planning attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable. For that, our firm would be honored to represent you and help you in the midst of any estate matter or dispute. Reach out to us to begin with a free consultation.

Luis E. Barreto