Many families may find that making end-of-life plans can be a painful and challenging experience. It is vital, however, to not let grief cloud one’s judgment and skip out on end-of-life responsibilities. The reality is that all adult Floridians should have a will in place. Without a will, the intended inheritors may have difficulty in securing the deceased’s estate.
What is intestate succession?
When a person dies without a valid will, their estate enters into “intestate succession.” The state government takes control of the deceased’s property in intestacy, then distributes the assets according to Florida statute. Not only does this process take more time than if the deceased had a will in place, but the state will also deduct fees for their efforts. These fees are usually proportional based upon the size of the estate, sometimes significantly reducing an expected amount of inheritance. Depending on the circumstances of the family, these fees may be devastating.
In Florida, intestate succession will distribute inheritance following a few basic guidelines:
- Not married, no children: All property goes to one’s parents. With no living parents, any siblings will divide the property evenly. Without siblings, the intestate succession divides the property between each side of the parents’ families. If the state is unable to locate any living relatives, the state will absorb the deceased’s estate.
- Not married, with children: Intestate succession splits all property evenly among children.
- Married: A married person’s spouse will generally inherit all their property upon their death, even if they share children. If the deceased has children, but not shared with the spouse, the state will split inheritance between spouse and children. If the spouse is a parent to children not shared with the deceased, the spouse inherits half and the parents or siblings of the deceased will receive the other half.
Draft a will today
Floridians worried about what might happen to their estate after they pass can bring their questions to a local attorney familiar with estate planning and wills. A lawyer can help a family with the burden of paperwork while they help a loved one make difficult decisions.