What to expect when a loved one dies without a will

On Behalf of | Jul 4, 2024 | Probate

In some unfortunate cases, a loved one may pass away suddenly without having a will drafted. When this happens, it can be confusing to navigate the division of property and assets. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to understand the laws and processes you should expect.

Understanding intestacy in Florida

When a loved one passes away without a will, the state will handle their estate using intestacy laws. The law determines the quantities in which the deceased’s assets are divided among the surviving family when there is no will.

It may comfort you to know that immediate family comes first. The laws prioritize the deceased’s spouse and children. The process will be more straightforward if you have a surviving spouse. 

However, if you have children, the situation can become more complicated, especially if one of them is a minor. In this case, placing their assets in trust until they are old enough to receive them can add extra layers of legal considerations.

Who inherits what?

Spousal law entitles the surviving spouse to the first $60,000 of the estate under spousal rights. In addition to this, they will receive half of the remaining assets.

The state divides the remaining assets among the deceased’s children in equal shares. This includes adopted children but not stepchildren unless they were legally adopted. Biological children always receive priority within this hierarchy.

If the deceased doesn’t have a spouse or children, the assets are then filtered down to the extended family in this specific order: first, parents, then siblings, and then next of kin such as grandparents, uncles, and aunts.

What happens next?

If you have questions, you should seek legal advice Consulting with a probate attorney can help you understand intestacy law and your options.

In most cases, the deceased’s estate will need an administrator who will dictate the division of property. This administrator is often assigned through probate court. 

Settling an estate without a will is generally a longer process than if there had been a will. Most of the process of negotiating probate will take place in a court setting. This can be a lengthy process, so prepare accordingly.

Navigating intestacy without a will

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy, and the legal complexities without a will can add an additional layer of stress. Knowing your rights will help you handle intestacy better. Doing what you can to settle their estate with care will ensure that your loved one’s legacy is honored.