Estate Planning And Elder Law Services In Orlando And Beyond

What to expect when your parents die with no will in Florida

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Losing a parent is an emotionally wrenching experience. When compounded by the absence of a will, the legal and financial burden can feel overwhelming.

When someone dies without a will, Florida’s intestacy laws dictate how their assets are distributed. These laws prioritize blood relatives, with the distribution plan varying depending on your family structure. Here’s a simplified breakdown:

  • Married with children: Your spouse inherits the entire estate.
  • Married with no children: Your spouse inherits all assets.
  • Not married with children: Your children (biological or adopted) inherit equally. If any child has predeceased you, their descendants (grandchildren) inherit their share.
  • No spouse or children: Your parents inherit everything. If only one parent survives, they inherit all.
  • No spouse, children, or parents: Your siblings inherit equally. If a sibling is deceased, their children (nieces/nephews) inherit their share.
  • Distant relatives: The line of inheritance continues through grandparents, aunts/uncles and their descendants.

Intestacy, unlike a will, offers no control over who inherits what. It also necessitates probate, a court process that oversees the administration of your parents’ estate. You can expect the court to appoint someone to manage the estate (pay debts, sell assets, distribute inheritances). This is typically the eldest child, but family members can petition for someone else.

All assets and liabilities must be identified and valued. This includes bank accounts, property, vehicles and outstanding loans. Creditors have a limited window to claim what they’re owed from the estate. Once debts are settled, the remaining assets are distributed according to Florida’s intestacy laws.

Moving forward

Losing a parent is a difficult experience, and the absence of a will can add another layer of complexity to an already stressful situation. By understanding Florida’s intestacy laws, seeking legal counsel and prioritizing open communication, you can manage this situation effectively and help ensure a smoother inheritance process for everyone involved.