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What does it mean to die intestate in Florida?

If you are a Florida resident who has not yet gotten around to making a Last Will and Testament, you may wish to reconsider your recalcitrance. While no one likes to think about their own death, having a will is one of the best ways for you to make sure that when you die, your property will go to those and only those to whom you wish to distribute it. If you die before you make a will, you will be considered to have died intestate and the state of Florida will decide who your heirs are and which of them gets which portion of your assets and property.

The Florida Bar explains that by law your descendants, and therefore your heirs, are your current spouse and your children, natural or adopted, whether by your current spouse or a previous relationship. Under some circumstances your descendants could also include your grandchildren, parents, siblings and other people more distantly related to you.

Surviving spouse distribution

If your spouse is your only surviving descendant, he or she will receive your entire probate estate if you die intestate. If, on the other hand, you are survived by both your spouse and one or more children, or grandchildren in the event that one or more of your children predeceased you, your spouse will receive half of your probate estate and your children and/or grandchildren will share the remaining half.

No surviving spouse distribution

If you are not married at the time you die intestate, but are survived by living descendants of the same generational level, they will share equally in your probate estate. In the case of the children of one of your children who predeceased you, however, such grandchildren will share equally in that portion of your probate estate that would have gone to your deceased child had he or she survived you.

Florida law provides for intestate distribution of your property and assets in virtually every conceivable survivorship situation. Whether or not you would have preferred a different distribution is of no concern or consequence to the probate court. Therefore, the simplest way for your wishes to be fulfilled is by having a will. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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