What Happens If A Florida Parent Dies Without A Will?

by Legal Author on March 1, 2013

Don’t Leave Your Child’s Future in the Hands of the State

cemetary(Guest author Jessica Velasco works for a Clearwater probate lawyer.)

Writing your will probably isn’t something you think about on a daily basis.  But if you don’t have a will, you should be thinking about it.  One you are gone, you are free from the drama and stress this world inflicts.  However, you leave behind your loved ones who are still suffering from such burdens.  Don’t make the situation worse by bequeathing a costly administrative nightmare to your loved ones.

If you haven’t already done so, you should look into writing your will immediately.  Without a will, your family will fall into one of the following situations.  Will Florida’s law distribute your estate the way you would choose to?

Situation #1

Stipulations:

  • The deceased was survived by his or her spouse.
  • The deceased has no living descendants.
    • A descendant is any person in any generational level.  The term includes children, grandchildren and other more distant relatives

What will happen:
The spouse will receive all the deceased’s probate estate.

Situation #2

Stipulations:

  • The deceased was survived by his or her spouse.
  • The deceased left one or more living descendants.
    • All the living descendants are of the deceased and spouse.
  • The surviving spouse doesn’t have additional living descendants from outside the marriage.

What will happen:

The spouse will inherit all the deceased’s probate estate.

Situation #3

Stipulations:

  • The deceased was survived by his or her spouse.
  • The deceased left one or more living descendants.
    • All the living descendants are of the deceased and spouse.
  • The surviving spouse also has additional living descendants from outside the marriage.

What will happen:

The spouse will receive half of the probate estate.  The deceased’s descendants will divide the remaining half.

Situation #4

Stipulations:

  • The deceased was not married at the time of his or her death.
  • The deceased has one or more living descendant.

What will happen:

If there is more than one descendant, the deceased’s probate estate will be divided among them according to Florida law.  If the deceased was preceded in death by a child, that child’s portion of the probate estate will be distributed to the deceased’s grandchildren.

Situation #5

Stipulations:

  • The deceased was not married at the time of his or her death.
  • The deceased has no living descendants.

What will happen:

The deceased’s probate estate will be passed to any surviving parents.  If the deceased was preceded in death by his or her parents, the estate will be passed to siblings.

Situation #6

Stipulations:

  • The deceased was not married at the time of his or her death.
  • The deceased has no living descendants.
  • The deceased has no living parents.
  • The deceased has no living siblings.

What will happen:

According to Florida law, the deceased’s probate estate will be passed to distant heirs.

Interpreting the Facts

As you can see, dying without a will means your estate won’t necessarily pass to the people you want to receive it.  A few things to note include the following:

  • If you are separated but not officially divorced, your spouse will still inherit your estate.
  • If your estate passes to your children, your spouse won’t have a say in its distribution.  A court appointed representative will oversee the distribution.  This means your spouse won’t be able to use that money to raise your children.
  • Your step-children won’t receive any portion of your probate estate.
  • If your estate passes to distant family members, there is a possibility it won’t be used in a manner you would approve of.  For example, a young woman died without a spouse, children or will.  Her estate passed to her parents.  Her parents choose to donate the money to a pro-life organization.  When living, their daughter had been adamant about pro-choice.
  • Without a will, you won’t have any say in who raises your children.

Obviously, it is extremely important to have a will.  There are various websites (like LegalZoom and Nolo) that provide forms and assistance with do-it-yourself will writing.  At the very least, you should consider one of these options.  For best results, consult a lawyer.  It is the safest way to ensure your loved ones receive what they are entitled to.

Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://officeimg.vo.msecnd.net/en-us/images/MH900401375.jpg

Guest author Jessica Velasco works for a Clearwater probate lawyer.  The firm has helped several families with their will and probate law needs.  She can be found at Smitherman Law, 600 Bypass Dr #106, Clearwater, FL 33764 727-466-1456  http://theclearwaterattorney.com/

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