How Does Intestate Succession Work?

How Does Intestate Succession Work?

Although it’s beneficial to create a will to outline what you wish to have happen to your estate and assets, it is not a legal requirement anywhere in the United States. If you pass away without a will, your property will be subject to the laws of intestate succession. This also comes into play if your will is ruled to have been invalid after going through the probate process — another reason to work with a dedicated attorney.

Whenever a person dies without a will, there are set procedures according to state law that dictate how your possessions will be passed on to your relatives. Most of the time, if you have a spouse or domestic partner who survives you, he or she will receive all of your property if you do not have children. If you have a child, your assets may be split between the spouse and child depending on whether your child is also your spouse’s child.

Keep in mind that under intestate succession laws, children are legal children only, born to or adopted by you. Biological children you gave up for adoption do not qualify as your heir and neither do step-children, generally.

If you do not have a spouse or children who survive you, your assets are then left to other relatives in this order:

  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings (if they are deceased, then your nieces or nephews or their descendants)
  • Grandparents (if they are deceased, then your aunts and uncles or their descendants)
  • Relatives of your deceased spouse, if applicable

If your estate is not able to find any relatives, then everything in your estate goes to the state itself. If a person who would have inherited from you has passed away, that person’s descendants will inherit your estate instead.

Intestacy means certain people will get left out, including good friends, stepchildren and charities. Thus, if you wish to maintain full control over who gets what after your passing, the best way to do so is by creating a thorough, legally binding will.

To learn more about creating a sound will and trust in Florida, work with the knowledgeable Tampa estate planning attorneys at Phillip A. Baumann P.A.