If you have yet to find the time to make a will, you are not alone. Many people put off making a will because they assume they will not need one any time soon. Unfortunately, this assumption means many individuals pass away before they have time to plan.
If you fail to create a will before you die, you may wonder, what becomes of your estate? The Florida Bar explains what happens when a person dies without a will.
No will and Florida intestate
If you pass away without a will in Florida, it is highly unlikely that your property will go to the state. Only in very rare situations will the state claim the property of a deceased person. Rather, the state will consider you as having died “intestate.” If you die intestate, your estate will become subject to the distribution rules as outlined by Florida intestate laws.
Florida intestate laws
Florida’s intestate laws are very detailed, as they attempt to account for every possible situation in which no will is present. Below is a brief overview of how the state will allocate your property if you should pass without a will:
- If you have a spouse at the time of death but no other living descendants, your spouse will receive the entirety of your probated property. For estate administration purposes, a descendant is any person at any generational level in your descending line, including parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren and even great aunts and uncles.
- If a spouse and descendants of both you and your spouse survive you, your spouse will, once again, receive the entirety of your estate.
- If you were not married at the time of death but have surviving descendants, your descendants will receive all or most of your probated estate. Florida law dictates the manner in which the descendants must divide the property, with children of the deceased having first priority.
- If you passed away without a spouse or surviving children, your surviving parents will receive the estate. If you do not have surviving parents, your property goes to surviving siblings.
- If you do not have a surviving spouse or direct descendants, the state will attempt to locate more remote heirs to which to pass your property.
Though Florida intestate laws attempt to be as fair as possible, they likely do not align with your own goals for your property. The best way to ensure the state distributes your property in accordance with your wishes is to create a will long before you may need one.