If There’s No Will in Florida, the Way Ahead is Unclear

Plan ahead now and save your family hardship later

A will is arguably one of the most important legal documents that you may ever create. It provides guidance for grieving relatives when they are at their most vulnerable and ensures that your hard-earned assets pass on according to your wishes.

There are many good reasons to have a will in place, and one of the most compelling is that dying without one in Florida triggers a series of complex legal consequences known as intestacy. Below is a summary of what may happen should this unfortunate situation occur:

Non-Probate vs. Probate

In Florida, a property can be passed on to your descendants through either a probate or non-probate proceeding. There are a few ways in which property can be inherited outside of probate:

Probate is a court-supervised process in which your last will and testament come into play. The court will first determine whether a valid will was executed. When you do not leave a valid will, the State of Florida imposes its own rules. The following is a summary of who may inherit property under the Florida intestacy succession laws, should the deceased not have a will:

Spouse and Descendants

No Spouse or Descendants

Don’t wait to draft a will

As the list above indicates, leaving your family without a will can spin off into a byzantine series of legal complications that will only serve to compound their feelings of loss. The logistics get further tangled in the grey areas that creep into many relationships.

Estranged child or sibling? They are still entitled to a share.

Living happily unmarried with your long-time partner? They will get nothing.

Raised a step or foster child as your own? Nothing for them, either.

A will allows you to provide for those who mean the most to you, regardless of bloodline or last name. But you don’t have to undertake this endeavor alone. Padula Bennardo Levine, LLP’s Boca Raton estate planning and probate attorneys can help you plan ahead.

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