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What happens when a Floridian dies without a will?

It adds confusion to sorrow, but some deaths occur before someone had a chance to make an official will. An unplanned death can create a lot of questions for relatives, friends, caregivers and colleagues on how a deceased person's property and possessions are distributed.

What happens if someone dies without a will?

A person who dies without a will is called "intestate" under Florida law. A probate court will be responsible for their assets until heirs can be identified and receive their inheritance.

Does the state get the deceased person's property?

It is rare, even without a will, that the state of Florida acquires a deceased person's assets. This only happens if no heirs can be identified. Withholding fees from the asset for the probate court is possible under state law.

Who are common heirs under Florida law?

If a deceased person was married, the surviving spouse is most likely to receive the entire estate. This happens if the deceased had no descendants and/or the spouse has none as well. The estates of unmarried deceased people will be distributed evenly to descendants under Florida law.

Who is a descendant under Florida law?

Immediate family such as children, grandchildren, parents and similar relatives may be deemed descendants for the purposes of inheritance. Other heirs with more remote family connections may be considered if none of the other family members exist.

Heirs of intestate deceased people have rights under Florida law to present their ability to inherit to a probate court with legal assistance. Consider your options if you are compelled to challenge a will or inheritance issue in probate court.

Source: Florida Bar Association, "Probate in Florida," accessed Aug. 1, 2017

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