When a person passes away, the surviving family members need to determine what to do with the deceased’s assets. Ideally, the deceased prepared for this moment with a last will and testament. In this article, we will discuss what happens in the scenario where the deceased never created any such documentation. Without a last will or testament, the decedent’s property becomes intestate property. Read on to learn what happens with intestate property in the state of Florida.

What is Intestate Property?

Intestate property is any property left behind that has not been previously directed to be disposed of by the deceased.  If, for example, the deceased died in an accident with no will, then the assets left behind are intestate property.  In some cases, if there were a last will and testament, the deceased might have acquired additional property that was not included in the document.  In this case, the state considers the additional property intestate property.

How Does Florida Handle Intestate Property?

Florida intestate law automatically designates heirs for the probate administrator to look towards to distribute the assets.  Furthermore, in the case of intestate property, if there are multiple heirs, then the law will also designate how to divide the assets.  Florida applies the per stirpes method in these cases.

What is Per Stirpes?

Per Stirpes is a method in which not only heirs are determined but also the percentage of shares of unallocated assets they should receive.  It assumes that each descendant of the deceased gets an equal share of the leftover assets.

The Heirs Designated Under Florida Intestacy Laws

Under Florida intestacy laws, the courts will look to distribute the assets of the deceased in the following manner:

There is a Surviving Spouse

The surviving spouse gets 100% of the assets.

If there are a surviving spouse and descendants of the decease from a previous relationship, then the surviving spouse will get 50% and the descendants of the previous relationship will split the remaining 50%.

No Surviving Spouse

If there is no surviving spouse, then the remaining assets go to children, grandchildren, etc. in equal shares. For example, if there are two children, both living, then the assets will be distributed in a way where each surviving child will get 50%.

If there is no surviving spouse or descendants, then the court will look at the ascendants of the deceased. If one or both parents are still alive, then they would receive 100% of the estate.  In the case where both parents are alive but divorced or separated, then they will split the assets 50%.

Surviving Parents

If the parents of the deceased are no longer alive, then the estate will pass to the siblings of the deceased to be shared equally. If for example there are four surviving siblings, then each sibling would get 25% of the estate assets.

No Family

If the parents are deceased and there are no siblings, then the courts will look to the grandparents. Even if the grandparents are no longer alive, the courts will distribute the estate equally through lineal descendants stemming from the grandparents.

Contact An Estate Lawyer

Although Florida law attempts to automatically give assets of a deceased to heirs, it is not always a simple process.  The only way to ensure your loved ones are cared for after your passing is to speak with an estate attorney and continually update your last will and testament to include all your assets. The attorneys at Dowd Law have the experience to ensure your wishes will be followed after you passing and will handle your estate planning in a dignified, professional manner.  Contact us for a consultation.