What Does It Mean To Die Intestate in Florida
When a person dies without creating a Last Will and Testament in Florida, he/she is said to have died intestate. Each state in the United States of America has its own laws for the distribution of assets of the deceased when he/she dies without a valid Will.
In Florida, intestacy may be of 2 types
- Whole intestacy (If a person leaves no Will or an invalid Will)
- Partial intestacy (If a person leaves a Will but does not dispose of all the property that the decedent owns)
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Which Assets pass by Intestate Succession?
Intestate Succession laws are applicable only to those assets that pass through probate. Many valuable assets avoid probate and therefore intestate succession laws do not affect them. The following are examples of such assets.
1. Jointly owned Assets.
Any property owned jointly with another person does not go through probate. For example, bank accounts and real estate, but can also involve any other asset with a joint owner.
2. Beneficiary accounts.
There are certain assets that are transferred directly to your beneficiary after you die. These are
- Insurance policies
- And other retirement accounts.
Beneficiary designations override what is written in your will. So it is important to keep them updated.
3. Transfer-On-Death (TOD) assets.
You can use a transfer-on-death form to name beneficiaries for vehicles, securities, and real estate to bypass probate. Cars, small boats, stocks, bonds, brokerage accounts, land, and houses all qualify as TOD assets.
A TOD designation helps in a direct transfer of your assets and property to your named beneficiaries.
4. Payable-On-Death bank accounts.
It is an agreement between you and the bank or credit union accounts that can avoid probate by automatically transferring your assets to the designated beneficiaries.
5. Living Trusts.
If you create a Living Trust, your estate will be transferred to your beneficiaries soon after your death without any involvement of the Court.
Your Successor Trustee will make the distribution as per your wishes by transferring the ownership of the Trust property to your beneficiaries.
Whether you have a Will or not, the above assets will be distributed among the surviving co-owner(s) or the named beneficiaries. Intestate succession laws will not be applicable in this case.
But, if you died without a Will and there is no surviving beneficiary to take the property, the distribution could be done as per the Florida Intestate Successions Laws.
Learn about the Probate process in Florida and how to avoid Probate using a Living Trust.
Florida Intestacy Rules
If you have died in Florida without a Last Will, Florida Intestacy Rules applicable to your assets will be as follows:
Children's Shares in Florida
In Florida, if you die without a Will, your children’s share in your estate will be governed by intestate successions laws of Florida and it will depend upon a number of factors like
- Whether you are married or not
- How many children do you have
- Whether you or your spouse had children from another relationship
- Apart from your biological children, only legally adopted children will receive an intestate share, just as your biological children do. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.108.
- If you have foster children and stepchildren, they will not receive the share if you have not adopted them before your death.
- If a child is conceived by you but born after your death (Posthumous children), he/she will receive the share just as your biological children do. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.106.
- If you placed your Children for adoption and they were legally adopted by another family will not receive a share.
- If you placed your Children for adoption and they were legally adopted by your spouse, they will receive the share just as your biological children do. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.108.
- Children born outside of marriage (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.108) will receive a share of your estate if
- your marriage ceremony turned out to be void,
- a court establishes your paternity before or after your death, or
- you acknowledge your paternity in writing.
- Your grandchild will receive a share only if their parents (your son or daughter) are not alive to receive his or her share.
The Spouse's Share in Florida
In Florida, if you die without a Will, your Spouse’s share in your estate will be governed by intestate successions laws of Florida and it will depend upon a number of factors like
- How many children you have
- How many grandchildren or great-grandchildren do you have
There are 4 circumstances:
1. You have Spouse but no children.
In this case, everything will go to your spouse.
2. You and your Spouse have children and your spouse has no descendants from a previous relationship.
Everything will go to your spouse.
3. You and your Spouse have children and your spouse has descendants from a previous relationship also
The Share will be divided into 2 parts. Half of the share will go to your spouse and half will go to your descendants.
4. You have a Spouse with whom you have no children but you have descendants from a previous relationship.
The share will be divided into 2 parts. Half of the share will go to your spouse and half will go to your descendants.
Other Florida Intestate Succession Rules
- Posthumous relatives (Relatives who are conceived earlier but born after your death) (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.106) - They will receive as if they were present while you were alive.
For example, your niece who was conceived while you were alive but born after your death will have the same inheritance rights over your property as if she was born at the time of your death.
- Half-relatives(Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.105) - No change in inheritance. They will receive as if they were “whole”.
For example, your half-sister, having a different mother will have the same share as she would if you had both parents in common.
- Relatives who are citizens or legally in the United States (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 732.1101)- They will also inherit if they have a share as per the intestate succession laws.
For example, your niece residing in the UK will have the same inheritance rights over your property after your death as she would have if is residing in the U.S.A.