Probate is the handling and distribution of a deceased individual’s estate. Tasks in this process also include paying taxes and carrying out any specified instructions in the will.
According to Forbes, close to half of the U.S.’s over 55 population has yet to get around to making one. In cases where a person passes without leaving such a document behind, the probate court determines inheritance based on intestate law. This varies for each state, including Florida.
If there is a spouse
If the decedent (the dead party) leaves behind a spouse, but no living descendants, everything goes to him or her. When there is a surviving spouse and a descendant who is the offspring of both the spouse and the deceased, and the spouse has no living descendants from another relationship, the court awards the estate to the husband or wife. If the former holds true except that the partner has one or more living descendants that are not the decedent’s, then the court splits the assets. Half goes to the partner and the decedent’s descendants share the other half.
If there is no spouse
When there is no remaining spouse, but there are living descendants, then the court divides the estate among them based on a generational level. It goes to children first. If one of them expired before the departed, then the child’s descendants receive his or her share.
If there are no heirs
For unmarried individuals without descendants, their effects pass on to the parents then the siblings, in that order. Remote heirs may be sought out if no immediate relatives exist. If there are zero inheritors, the state of Florida may lay claim to the estate.
Note that there is more to intestate law in Florida than this. There are exceptions to this order.