You may believe you have plenty of time to draft estate planning documents but if you die without a will in Florida, the Probate Judge will appoint an executor to distribute your assets in accordance with the law. While that works for many people, it does not work for those going through a difficult divorce, are estranged from children, or had planned to give certain mementos to specific loved ones and friends.

Dying without a will (also known as dying intestate) can lead to a distribution of property you may not have intended. If you are married but have no children, your spouse will inherit your intestate property and if children exist but there is no spouse, then the children inherit it all proportionately. It gets more complicated from there. 

If you are a potential beneficiary, executor, or trustee, our talented probate attorneys are available to discuss intestate succession in Kendall with you.

Not All Assets Count in Probate

Intestate succession laws only affect assets that are subject to probate. Some assets by their nature pass to co-owners or other named beneficiaries and do not need to go through formal administration:

  • Life insurance policies that name a beneficiary;
  • Real estate owned jointly;
  • Property held in a living trust;
  • Money in payable-on-death bank accounts;
  • Retirement accounts such as IRAs or 401(k)s that name a beneficiary.

The majority of a decedent’s assets can be earmarked for loved ones and friends to avoid probate. However, if any of these beneficiaries are not alive to accept the grants, the property could still pass by intestate succession in Kendall. 

Surviving Spouses

According to Florida Statute § 732.102, a surviving spouse inherits all property from a deceased spouse, even if they have living children or other descendants together and the decedent and surviving spouse have no descendants from previous relationships. 

However, if the surviving spouse has descendants from previous relationships, they will inherit 50 percent of the deceased spouse’s intestate assets and the descendants of the marriage will inherit the other 50 percent.

Intestate property of married decedents in Kendall with children or grandchildren from previous relationships (but none from the current marriage) will be split, half to the spouse and half to the descendants unrelated to the spouse.

Children Must Legally Belong to the Decedent

Some children have standing and some do not when a parent dies intestate. Biological children are due a share of the assets, whether they are the decedent’s children from a current or past relationship. Legally adopted children are also entitled to an intestate share of a parent’s estate and are treated like biological children, according to Fla. Stat. § 732.108.

Children of the decedent who were adopted by another family and stepchildren who were never adopted by the decedent are not eligible for a share of the intestate estate. Children from a previous relationship who are adopted by the current spouse will inherit. 

A child conceived but not born until after the parent’s death will still inherit. Children born out of wedlock will inherit from a deceased father if paternity is established by the court or in writing by the father prior to death. Grandchildren can receive their parent’s share if the parent (the decedent’s child) dies before receiving it. 

The intestate succession process is complicated and our Kendall attorneys can work with beneficiaries and appointed executors to ensure intestate distribution follows the law.

Make Sense of Intestate Succession in Kendall by Calling a Lawyer Today

If you die without a will, the Probate Judge will appoint an executor to dispose of your assets according to state laws. You risk someone inheriting something you did not want them to have and someone you love may be losing out. 

With a deep understanding of local probate laws, we encourage you to let The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm help organize estate planning documents that best serve your needs. Call today to schedule a free case evaluation with a Kendall intestate succession lawyer who can ensure your heirs will receive what they deserve.