How Property is Distributed if You Die Without A Will in Florida

February 8, 2019

What happens if you die without a will in Florida? Any person who passes without a will has essentially agreed to have their assets distributed using rules established by the Florida Legislature. In essence, you’ve just allowed politicians in Tallahassee to write your will for you. These rules are known as the rules of intestate succession.

The following are bright-line rules. It doesn’t matter if you dislike your brother or if one of your children is richer than the others: a probate court would just apply the rules as written. There is no room for discretion when you die without a will.

The Rules of Intestate Succession in Florida

If you are married at the time of your death and you and your spouse do not have children from other relationships, then your spouse would get your entire estate. If you have children with your spouse, there is an unwritten presumption that your spouse will provide for your children (though they are actually not obligated to do so).

If either you or your spouse has children from other relationships, then your spouse gets one-half of your estate.

Whatever is not distributed to a spouse would be distributed as follows:

  • If you have any descendants, they get all of your property. Descendants include children of yours, grandchildren, a great-grandchildren, and so on.
  • If you do not have descendants, then your father and mother keep all your property if, either or both of them are still alive.
  • If you do not have descendants or living parents, then your brothers and sisters and the descendants of your deceased brothers and sisters get your property. (Half brothers and sisters only get half as much as "whole" brothers and sisters.)

What if you do not have descendants, living parents, or brothers or sisters? In this case, half of your property will be distributed to your maternal family, and the other half to your paternal family. This is done as follows:

  • Your grandfather and grandmother share their half of the property.
  • If there is no living grandfather or grandmother, then uncles and aunts and the descendants of dead uncles and aunts share that half of the property.
  • If either the paternal or maternal side of your family does not have any living members, then the other side gets all of the property.

In some instances, none of these provisions apply. If there is still property to be distributed, it goes to the State of Florida.

Don’t Die Without A Will

Most people would rather not leave their estate in the hands of the government. If you fall into that category, you need to get started on your Estate Planning. The experienced Estate Planning Attorneys of The Ticktin Law Group can work with you to write a will and thus prevent you from dying intestate. For a free consultation, or to learn more about our legal services, call (561) 232-2222 or complete our contact form here.