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What happens if you die without a will?

If you live in Florida and have yet to make a Last Will and Testament, you may wish to remedy that situation as soon as possible. Why? Because having a will is the only way you can ensure that when you die, your assets will go to the people you want to have them. Without a will, the State of Florida decides who gets your assets, and this may well have nothing to do with your own wishes. Such are the perils of intestacy.

Under Florida’s intestacy laws, your spouse and your children are your primary heirs and take precedence when Florida distributes your assets after you die without a will. Other family members, too, such as your grandchildren, parents, siblings and more distant relatives, can also qualify as your heirs in certain situations.

Surviving spouse intestacy distribution

If your spouse survives you but the two of you never had any children, (s)he gets your entire probate estate. If you had children, either natural or adopted, and/or you had a natural or adopted child by another relationship, your surviving spouse gets half of your estate and your children share equally in the other half. Should one of your children predecease you but his or her children survive you, they take their deceased parent’s place in your line of succession. In other words, your surviving grandchildren of a deceased child share equally in the portion of your estate that would have gone to that child had (s)he not predeceased you.

No surviving spouse intestacy distribution

If you have no spouse at the time you die intestate, your children, if any, equally share in your entire estate. Again, your grandchildren by a predeceased child take their parent’s place in terms of what would have been his or her share.

Other intestacy distributions

No matter what your intestacy line of succession looks like at the time you die without a will, Florida has a law to cover the situation, none of which consider any friends, co-workers or others to whom you want to make a bequest. The same goes for any charities, schools or other organizations. Ultimately, should you have no surviving relatives whatsoever, your estate goes to the State of Florida.

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