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What Happens to Your Florida Estate without a Will?

Some individuals do not create a will or a will may not be found. A will details the distribution of the estate and any assets to beneficiaries. A well-written will that adheres to the law of the state will be difficult to contest. However, what happens when individuals living in Florida do not write a will? Will assets automatically go to the state? Understand more about the need for a Last Will and Testament in Florida.

What is a Will?

As defined by The Florida Bar, a will is:

“a writing, signed by the decedent and witnesses, that meet the requirements of Florida law.”

The person having their will written, the decedent, will name any desired beneficiaries and designate a personal representative, or executor, to administer the probate estate. The decedent’s will must be valid and not fail in any respect, in accordance to the state’s laws.

How Your Estate is Distributed

Without a will, the decedent’s estate is distributed through the intestate process. In most cases, probate assets are distributed to the heirs of the individual. The state would acquire the decedent’s assets if the individual that died had no heirs. Under Florida interstate laws, there are a few exceptions to such distribution of the probate estate. Exceptions include:

  • Statutory allowances for the surviving spouse and for any individuals that were supported by the decedent;
  • Exempt personal property; and
  • Homestead property.

When there is no will, the estate and assets will be distributed according to the applicable Florida statute. The order of priority begins with:

  • Any decedent survived by a spouse and without any living descendants will have all of the probate estate go to the surviving spouse.
  • Any decedent survived by a surviving spouse and having one or more living descendants and the surviving spouse having no other additional living descendants will have all of the probate estate pass to the surviving spouse.
  • When both the decedent and the surviving spouse have living descendant jointly and separately (for the spouse), one-half of the probate estate will be given to the spouse and the other half will be distributed to the decedent’s descendants.

Additional details direct the distribution of the probate assets when a person died intestate in cases when the decedent has living descendants but was unmarried at the time of death, was not married at death and had no descendants and when the probate estate is passed to more remote heirs. To ensure that your assets are distributed in the way you desire to your specified beneficiaries, writing a Florida will is a smart choice.

Wills and Estate Planning in Boca Raton

Writing a will is necessary to clarify the details of inheritance in regards to your Florida estate. South Florida residents can turn to attorney, Ido Stern. His practice is focused on wills and estate planning. Contact Stern Zwelling, LLC, today to discuss your needs as it applies to your South Florida will and estate.


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