When someone who lives and owns property in Florida dies without a will, living trust, or other provision regarding what to do with his/her property after death, the distribution of the property/assets is governed by state intestate laws.
In this article, we provide the guide on intestate succession in Florida Statute.
What Assets are Considered in a Process of Intestate Succession?
Typically, only assets that would have passed through a will are affected by Florida intestate succession law. In this case, only assets titled in the decedent’s name alone would be affected by intestate succession.
Also, many types of property/assets cannot be affected by intestate succession laws.
Common examples include any type of property transferred to a Florida living trust, life insurance proceeds, securities held in transfer-on-death account, payable-on-death accounts, or property owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety.
If I Die Without a Will in Florida, Will the State Get My Property?
It is possible for the state to obtain the property only in cases in which someone dies without a will and does not have any family or relatives. In such cases, the property left by the decedent will be utilized to fill the state’s coffers.
Nonetheless, laws are designed to get the decedent’s property to anyone who was even remotely related to him/her, which means that such situations are rarely seen.
Intestate Succession in Florida – How Are Spouses Affected?
If a married individual in Florida dies without a will, how the spouse will be affected will depend a lot on the existence of living descendants (children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren).
In cases where there are no living descendants, the spouse inherits all the intestate property left by the decedent.
However, if there are children or other descendants, the decedent’s property/assets can be shared amongst the existing relatives in three different ways:
- When someone dies with children/descendants from the relationship, and the surviving spouse has no descendants from previous relationships, the surviving spouse inherits everything.
- When someone dies with children/descendants from the relationship, but the surviving spouse has descendants from a previous relationship, the surviving spouse will inherit half of the decedent’s intestate property and the descendants inherit the other half.
- When someone dies with descendants from another relationship, the surviving spouse inherits half of the decedent’s intestate property, and the descendants from the other relationship inherit the other half.
Intestate Succession in Florida- How Are Children Affected?
If someone dies without a will in Florida, his/her children will receive a share of the intestate property.
Nonetheless, how is the size of each child’s share determined?
The answer relies on many factors, such as how many children the decedent has, if they are married or not, and the existence of children from previous relationships.
Under Florida laws of intestacy, the children need to be legally considered as the decedent’s children to inherit a share of its intestate property/assets. In reality, it is not so simple, given that in many families it is not so clear.
Florida law provides specific definitions regarding parent-child relationships at Florida Code § § 732.106 and 732.108. This subject may be complex, so we strongly recommend you seek guidance from an expert attorney in Florida to oversee your case.
Different Relationships, Different Provisions
As provided by Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.108, legally adopted children receive an intestate share, just like biological children would do. On the other hand, foster children and stepchildren (not legally adopted) cannot receive an intestate share, at least not automatically.
Grandchildren will receive a share only if that grandchild’s parent (a son or daughter of the decedent) is not alive to receive his/her share of the intestate property.
There are two variations in cases involving children placed for adoption. Any children placed for adoption by the decedent who was legally adopted by another family cannot receive an intestate share.
On the other hand, any decedent’s biological children who were adopted by its spouse will not be affected by intestate laws and receive their share.
Another common case involves children conceived by the decedent but not born before his death. In such cases, the posthumous children can receive a share normally.
Children born outside of married can receive a share of the intestate property in three different cases:
- if the decedent took part in a marriage ceremony that turned out to be void,
- if a court established the decedent’s paternity (before or after death), or
- if the decedent acknowledged the paternity in writing.
We Can Help You to Avoid Intestate Succession in Florida
It is crucial to avoid intestate succession in Florida to protect your beloved ones against unforeseen issues in the future.