When someone dies without a will, a court is tasked with determining how their assets will be distributed in accordance with the laws of the state where they lived. This process is known as intestate succession. When it comes to intestate succession Florida has fairly straightforward laws that are easy to understand.
In essence, when a person in Florida dies without a will, their assets are passed along to their closest living relative. Where things get a little more complicated is in determining which relative is considered the closest.
For instance, if you die with children but no spouse, the inheritance will go entirely to your children. Alternatively, if you die with a spouse and children, your spouse will generally inherit everything. That is, of course, unless your spouse has children from another marriage. In that case, half of your assets would go to your spouse and the other half would go to your children – not the children that your spouse had with another person.
There are also rules regarding what happens to assets if the only surviving relatives are parents or siblings. Figuring out who gets what can be a little bit complicated. However, the state has clear guidelines on what happens to assets after someone dies. If the person doesn’t leave a will, it falls to the court to distribute the assets according to the laws of the state.
Intestate succession only applies to assets that don’t have a declared beneficiary. For instance, if you have a life insurance policy that requires you to name a beneficiary, that life insurance won’t pass through the courts. Instead, it will go directly to the beneficiary. The same holds true for any assets that are put into a living trust.
Even if the person does not have any close relatives when they die, the state is usually able to find someone to pass the assets along to. This can be an aunt, uncle, distant cousin, or even the sibling of the person’s spouse if the spouse has already passed away.
When it comes to intestate succession Florida laws can seem a little bit complicated. However, they are actually quite simple. In essence, if a person dies without a will, their assets are passed along to their closest living relative. The only complicated part of the process is figuring out which relative is considered the closest according to the law.