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What is Florida's process for intestate succession?

Despite the best efforts of estate planning experts, many in Miami still may not have any form of a written will. If you count yourself amongst this group, then you may be running the risk of having the state decide where your assets should go once you are gone. If you do happen to die without a will, your estate will then be dispersed through a process known as intestate succession.

According to the Florida law, intestate succession occurs as follows:

  •          If you are survived by your spouse, he or she is entitled to the entire estate if you have no other living descendants, or those that are still living are his or her descendants, as well. If your descendants are not the biological children of your surviving spouse, or your surviving spouse has children to whom you are not biologically related, your estate is then split between your spouse and the children.
  •          If your spouse is also deceased, then the entirety of your estate passes to your living descendants.
  •          If you have no spouse or surviving descendants, your estate passes to your parents in equal shares.
  •          If your parents have passed, your estate is then split equally between your surviving siblings or their direct descendants.
  •          If you have none of aforementioned relations still living, then your assets are split amongst your remaining relatives, with equal shares going to both the paternal and maternal sides.

Why might you object to your estate being administered in this manner? Say you were separated yet not divorced from your spouse, and you want your assets to go to your children upon your death. If you do not specify that in a will, your spouse may inherent half or even all of your estate according to the line of succession listed above. 

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