What Happens to Your Estate If You Don’t Write a Will?

What Happens to Your Estate If You Don’t Write a Will?

Many people understandably don’t think about the benefits of establishing a will while they are young, as they plan to live to old age. However, life does not always cooperate, and passing away without a will can create a troublesome situation for family members who do not have the legal authority to choose how to manage your affairs. In these situations, Florida’s intestate succession laws apply to distributing an estate.

Intestate succession is a formulaic method of determining how the property of an estate will be distributed. It is not a perfect system, but it attempts to capture the way most people act when they have an opportunity to articulate their intent. The property associated with intestate succession includes only that which a person owns alone. For example, if you and your spouse own a home together, this property would not be included, and neither would any living trusts or retirement accounts you’ve established.

At the time of your death, Florida courts look at your family circumstances to determine how your property will be distributed. If you have a spouse but no children or a spouse and children from that spouse (and he or she has no other descendants), your property would pass directly to that person.

If you have children but no spouse, they would inherit it equally. It gets somewhat more complex, however, if you have children with your spouse, but he or she also has kids from another relationship. In that case, your children would inherit half of your estate and your spouse would inherit the other half.

If you have children both with your spouse and from another relationship, your spouse would inherit half and the children from the other relationship would inherit the other half. In the event you had neither spouse nor children, your parents would inherit your estate.

Finally, if you do not have a spouse, children or surviving parents, but do have siblings, they would inherit the estate equally. Meet with a Florida estate planning attorney from BaumannKangas Estate Law. to help you draft a legal, enforceable will that reflects your intent.