If a Florida resident dies without leaving a will, their probate estate will pass on to their loved ones through a process called intestate succession.
Intestate succession only applies to probate property. It does not apply to assets that are not considered as part of the deceased person’s estate, such as jointly held real estate or life insurance proceeds.
On the other hand, intestate succession does not just apply when a person leaves no will. It also applies if a court later declares the person’s only will to be invalid. It can also apply if the will just does not address a particular piece of property.
Surviving spouses have top priority under Florida’s intestate succession laws
Surviving spouses get favorable treatment under Florida’s intestate laws. Apparently, Florida’s lawmakers thought it safe to assume that a deceased person would most likely leave their property to their husband or wife.
If a person dies with no descendants, that is children, grandchildren and so forth down the generations, then the surviving spouse will receive all property once an estate pays its expenses and debts.
Likewise, if the persons’ only children, etc. are also those of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse receives all property. If either the person or the spouse has children from another relationship, then the surviving spouse receives half of the property.
If a person dies unmarried, property will pass to the person’s relatives
If a person dies unmarried and without a will, then the person’s children, followed by other direct descendants, will inherit the property. The law sets out exactly how the courts are to split the property when there is more than one descendant.
However, intestate succession does not leave a lot of flexibility for a court to treat one child differently from another, even if the deceased person would have wished to do so.
If a person has no descendants, then their property will pass to their parents and to more and more distant relatives.