When a person dies without a will in Florida, their assets are distributed to heirs in accordance with what is called intestate succession. Under intestate succession, there is a set order of who will receive each portion of a decedent’s assets. For instance, if a decedent’s spouse is alive, that spouse will receive all the assets. If a person dies and has children both from the current spouse and another person, half of the estate will go to the spouse and half will go to all children.
To avoid having assets divided as dictated by the government, one should create an estate plan. Even when the decedent dies with a will in place, there are a few ways that the estate administration could be carried out. This will depend on how much money the decedent had. Individuals can challenge the validity of a will, which could lead probate litigation through the Court
For those who want more security in the way their assets will be distributed, it could be a good idea to create a trust fund. Trust funds name beneficiaries to become the owners of certain assets upon meeting certain conditions, such as when a child turns 18. Jointly owned bank accounts and property will also typically go to the person who co-owns the property upon the other owner’s death. Naming a beneficiary on a retirement account can also ensure that someone receives those funds upon the account holder’s death.
Though Florida has fewer tax issues to worry about than other states (no inheritance or estate taxes), there’s still a lot to consider when it comes to end-of-life planning. An estate planning lawyer can help a client determine what type of estate plan works best for them given their family situation and assets.