What Happens When You Pass Away Without A Will In Florida?


Most people don’t take estate planning, especially preparing the will part, very seriously. No one likes to plan their after-death plans while they are enjoying life. We get it! But dying without a will in Florida can have far-reaching consequences.

It’s no wonder the one question we most commonly face as one of the leading estate planning attorneys in Florida is: What happens if you die without a will in Florida?

The answer is: If you live in Florida and pass away without a will, then your assets will be distributed to your relatives under the intestate succession laws.

What are the assets that are included in intestate succession?

Many of the assets that would have passed through your will are affected by intestate succession.

These are mostly the assets that you own wholly, in your name.

Some of your assets may not be necessary to probate for your beneficiaries to receive them.

These could include:

  • Money in your 401ks, IRAs, and other retirement funds.
  • The decedent’s assets in a living trust.
  • Proceeds from your life insurance.
  • Property owned by you in a joint tenancy.
  • The securities held by you in a transfer-on-death account.

But before we get into the details of “what happens if you die without a will in Florida,” let’s first understand Florida’s intestate laws.

Florida’s Intestate Laws

Florida’s intestate laws govern the distribution of a deceased person’s assets when they pass away without a valid will. In such situations, the intestate laws decide how the deceased person’s estate will be distributed. Florida Statute Sections 732.101-.109 covers this process.

How Are Your Assets Distributed?

If you have died intestate (without a will), then according to Florida’s intestate laws, your assets will be distributed in the following order of priority:

  • If you were survived by a spouse and have no other living descendants, then the spouse would receive all of the probate estate.
  • If you were survived by a spouse and one or more of your children in common, then the spouse will receive all of the probate estate.
  • If you were survived by a spouse, and the spouse has their own children from another relationship, then the probate estate will be passed half to the surviving spouse and half to their descendants.
  • If you were not married at the time of your death, then the property would be transferred wholly to your descendants. In case there is more than one descendant, then the property would be distributed equally amongst them.
  • If you were not married at the time of your death and you do not have living descendants, then the property would be passed on to your parents.
  • If you do not have any surviving close relatives mentioned above, then the property will pass to a distant relative.

Distributing the decedent’s assets under Florida’s intestate laws, as discussed above, is subject to certain home ownership exceptions. It also exempts certain personal property, and a statutory allowance to your surviving spouse and any of your children whom you support during your lifetime. Assets subject to these exemptions will pass in a manner different from the ones described in the intestate laws.

However, today, family units have become a little more complicated. For example, in some cases, the deceased may have a spouse, but they might also have children from previous marriage/s. Scenarios like this can lead to several complications, especially when dying without a will in Florida. 

When that happens, consulting a competent estate planning attorney can help you understand the potential intestate succession. In other words, whether or not your loved one died without a will, speak with a lawyer for asset distribution as soon as possible.

Will The State Ever Get Your Property?

This is another common question we face as lawyers. Dying without a will in Florida can lead to many uncertainties, the state getting your property being one of them. If you die without a will and have no close or distant surviving relatives, then there is a chance that the state might take over your property.

When this happens, the property will escheat into the state ownership. There are very remote chances of this occurring because the Florida probate laws make sure that your property passes on to any of your remote or distant relatives who may be surviving.

So, you need not be worried about the state getting your property. The intestate succession process is pretty clear. However, it is best to have a detailed will to ensure a smooth transition of your assets to your surviving family. So, talk to an estate planning lawyer to prepare your will and ensure asset distribution the way you want.

Contact the Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to Schedule a Consultation

What happens if you die without a will in Florida? The short answer is your surviving family, including your spouse, children, grandchildren, or distant relatives, will get your assets according to the intestate succession process. But as clear as Florida’s intestate laws are, dying without a will can still lead to many complications. It’s best to have a written will to ensure smooth asset distribution. 

Do you want to draft your will? Talk to estate planning attorneys at C. Alvarez Law. We are here to help you every step of the way. Contact Us Now

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C. Alvarez Law

C. Alvarez Law is a Central Florida-based law firm that helps families find resolutions to their most complex family law issues. We are dedicated to providing the support and advice you need for a positive outcome and a better life. Before you can move on with your life, you need closure. Our firm is diverse, energetic, and passionate about delivering this for the clients who have placed their trust in us. Let’s work together today to find a better tomorrow.

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