What Happens if You Die Without a Will in Florida?
Many people think that estate planning is only for the wealthy, or you only need a will if you have expensive assets. While wealthy people may have more intense estate planning needs, estate planning is for everyone. At a minimum, you should at least have a will for the reasons that we will discuss below. That said, it is fairly common for people to die without a will despite the significant risks. If you have a loved one who recently passed away without a will, a Boca Raton probate attorney can provide guidance concerning what happens next.
When you die without a will, your estate passes to your heirs through a process referred to as intestate succession. Every state, including Florida, has an intestate succession law that governs how assets are to be distributed among the surviving heirs. In other words, your estate will be distributed as dictated by Florida law, regardless of your intentions if you don’t have a will. Generally speaking, Florida law directs that assets be distributed via intestate succession as follows:
- If there is a surviving spouse, the spouse will inherit everything
- If there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving children, the children will inherit everything
- If there is no surviving spouse or children, the parents of the decedent will inherit everything
- If there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the siblings of the decedent will inherit everything
The situation becomes more complicated in blended families:
- If there is a surviving spouse and the decedent has children with that spouse, one half of the estate will be inherited by the spouse and the other half will be inherited by the decedent’s children
- If there is a surviving spouse and the decedent has children from another marriage, half will be inherited by the children and the other half will be inherited by the spouse
Intestate succession means that you have no control over how estate assets are distributed. For this reason alone, we strongly recommend that you contact a Boca Raton probate attorney to discuss your estate planning needs.
Even Without a Will, You Still Need a Boca Raton Probate Attorney
Some people mistakenly believe that probate is unnecessary if there is no will and that they, therefore, do not need to hire an attorney. While you may be able to get by without going to probate or hiring an attorney, it is likely that you will need to open a probate case in order to gain control or ownership of major assets such as real estate, cars, bank accounts, and other financial accounts. As a result, you may need to retain a Boca Raton probate attorney to help you navigate the probate process and ensure that the process goes smoothly.
Contact a Boca Raton Probate Attorney at Ellis Law Group
If your loved one died without a will and you don’t know what to do next, a Boca Raton probate attorney can walk you through the process. To schedule an appointment with someone at our office, call us at 561-910-7500 to discuss your case and how we can help.