INTESTATE SUCCESSION IN FLORIDA PROBATE
The term “Intestate Succession” refers to how the statutory process of distribution of a deceased person’s assets works if he/she passes without a valid will or other testamentary document. If a person dies without a document stating how to distribute their assets and other items in the estate Probate will be required. Intestate succession defines who will receive the assets and in what percentage.
Probate can be a long process that requires an attorney and it allows a person, the Personal Representative, to take control of the deceased person’s assets. When you pass without a valid will the State of Florida has already determined who inherits your property, money and all other items in your estate. Dying without a will allows the State of Florida to dictate how your estate will be distributed after your passing instead of you deciding.
Florida Intestate Succession
Florida Statute Sections 732.101-.109 covers the intestate succession process. When someone passes away without a will, or trust, all assets go to relatives in a specific order beginning with a spouse.
- First in line is the surviving spouse. There must be a valid marriage to be a surviving spouse. (If there are no children the search for heirs stops here and the spouse gets 100%.)
- Second are the deceased person’s children – adopted or biological. If a child dies before the parent a grandchild may inherit a part of the estate. Step-children are not included in this stage.
- If there are no spouse or children, the decedent’s parents will inherit the estate.
- The deceased person’s siblings would divide the estate if the parents have already passed.
- And if no siblings survive but there are nieces/nephews of the deceased person those are next in line.
Family ties in this world can be complicated. Typically, the surviving spouse of the decedent will receive 100%. But, if the deceased has children from a prior relationship, the surviving spouse may only get 50% with the other half going to the prior offspring.
Do Any Assets Pass Without Going Through Probate?
If a person does pass without a will some assets may not require Probate Court. Examples of such assets are financial accounts with beneficiary designations (such as an IRA, stock account, or checking/savings) and life insurance
Property owned jointly with another person does not require Probate Court. It simply transfers upon your death. Many people set up bank accounts, CD’s, credit union accounts, and life insurance policies with named beneficiaries, or designated POD (payable-on-death) accounts.
So, any account that designates who inherits the funds when you pass away is protected from intestate succession.
How Can I Avoid Intestate Succession?
Undertaking an estate plan helps you avoid intestate succession. Your plan should include a Last Will and Testament, a power of attorney, a health care surrogate designation, a living will, and declarations on HIPPA and guardianship. By obtaining these items you offer protection to the family you may want to help to avoid probating your estate and doing so will save them money.
If you are ready to begin the process of planning for incapacity and perhaps the inevitable call the office 321-549-3162 or use the contact form on this site to have your questions answered. Attorney Bonnie Rhoden offers complimentary initial phone consultations.