What happens if I die without a will?
Dying without a will means that you are dying "intestate." Your estate will be administered according to state law rather than your personal preferences. Florida State Law has an order of priority for the distribution of intestate assets as follows:
- If a testator dies with a spouse but no descendants (A "descendant" is a person in any generational level down the descending line from the decedent and includes children, grandchildren, and more remote descendants), then the spouse gets the whole estate.
- If a testator dies with a spouse and one or more living descendants, the surviving spouse receives one half of the estate and the living descendants receive the remaining half.
- If a testator dies without a spouse but with one or more living descendants, the surviving descendants share in the whole estate.
- If a testator dies without a spouse or living descendants, the surviving parents share in the estate or if deceased, the brothers and sisters.
- Florida's intestate laws will pass the decedent's probate estate to other, more remote heirs if the decedent is not survived by any of the close relatives described above.
Further, it must be noted that the distribution of the decedent's (testator) probate estate under Florida's intestate laws, is subject to certain exceptions for homestead property, exempt personal property, and a statutory allowance to the surviving spouse and any descendants or ascendants whom the decedent supported.