If you are a Florida resident who has not yet made a will, you probably will be shocked to discover that the state of Florida has made one for you – sort of. The Florida Bar explains that if you die without having made a will, you are considered to have died intestate and your probate assets will be distributed according to Florida law.
Florida defines probate assets as those things that you own in your name only at the time of your death. Probate assets also can be things you own with someone else, such as a bank account or vehicle, but which lack a provision for the automatic transfer to that person when you die.
Intestacy distribution if you are married
If you are married at the time of your death and survived by your spouse, but no children or other descendants, your spouse will receive all of your probate assets. If both your spouse and one or more of your descendants survive you, your spouse will receive half of your probate estate and your descendants will share equally in the other half.
Intestacy distribution if you are not married
If you are single, divorced or widowed at the time of your death and survived by one or more descendants, they will share equally in your entire probate estate. Should any of your descendants die before you do, but have children of their own at the time of their death, those children take their parent’s place in your line of succession. For instance, if your son had two children before he died, your two grandchildren will share equally in what would have been your son’s share of your probate estate had he survived you.
If you are not married at the time of your death and have no surviving descendants, your probate estate goes to either or both of your parents who survive you. If they predeceased you, then your probate estate is distributed among your surviving siblings.
Should you have no close surviving relatives, your probate estate is divided among more distant relatives such as cousins, nieces, nephews, etc. While this information should not be taken as legal advice, it can help you understand the process and what to expect.