Losing a loved one in Florida is rarely easy, yet for the impacted by such a loss, the decedent’s passing typically brings some degree of finality. They view their family member or friend’s death as the end of their physical suffering, and as offering them the chance to close the book on what may be a painful chapter of their lives.
Yet in many cases, a loved one’s death may introduce a whole new round of concerns. This is especially true if a decedent died without a will. Many might assume that in such a case, one’s potential heirs would determine the dispersal of their assets. Yet that is not the case.
What if one dies without a will?
Should one die without a will, the state classifies them as “intestate.” Their estates then become subject to state laws for intestate succession. One may find those guidelines as they pertain to Florida in Section 732 of the state’s statutes.
Per this statute, the surviving spouse of one who dies intestate receives their entire estate if the decedent had no descendants, or if the decedent’s descendants are also the descendants of the surviving spouse. That interest reduces to one-half of the estate of any surviving descendants are not descendants of the surviving spouse, or if the surviving spouse has descendants who are not descendants of the decedent.
If an intestate decedent does not leave behind a spouse, their estate passes in the following order:
- To direct descendants
- To surviving parents
- To siblings (and their descendants)
- To paternal and maternal kindred (in equal part)
- To surviving descendants of a previous spouse
The odds of dealing with an intestate estate
One should not assume their loved ones have wills. Indeed, according to the American Association of Retired Persons, roughly 60% of American adults do not have a will.