VanNess & VanNess, P.A.
352-436-4333

Do heirs & beneficiaries have rights if there is no valid Will?

Do heirs and beneficiaries have rights if there is no valid Will when someone passes away while residing in Florida? When a resident of Florida dies, assets are disbursed according to Florida law. Estate administration is generally filed in the county where the person resided at the time of death. By signing a valid Will, the process of transferring assets to intended beneficiaries goes very smoothly. An estate planning attorney may also offer to store your Will for safekeeping in a fire-proof vault in his/her office for added peace of mind. 

In far too many cases a person dies without a valid Will. This does not necessarily mean that heirs & beneficiaries won't receive their intended inheritances, but distribution could be delayed and the assets expected to pass to heirs & beneficiaries may be subject to additional estate administration costs. Where no valid Will exists, the law provides for the distribution of estate property according to applicable Florida Statutes.

Intestate succession

The legal order of distribution regarding inheritances if there is no Will is called intestate succession. A surviving spouse and minor children are positioned before others under the law for their protection when an individual dies as a resident of Florida. 

In the case of a surviving spouse with minor children from the relationship with the decedent, the entire estate could go to the spouse. However, if the decedent had children from a previous relationship, or if both the decedent and surviving spouse have surviving descendants from other relationships, a portion of the estate could go to the surviving spouse and another portion could go to the decedent's surviving children.

With many factors that affect estate distribution, you owe it to your family to meet with an attorney to determine the best way to handle your estate plan - while you are in good health. Your valid Will under Florida law will direct how the inheritance you pass on to loved ones is managed at the time of your death.  

    Florida law has set appropriate guidelines for payment of claims and the distribution of assets of an estate when no Will exists. The best way to direct how your heirs and beneficiaries inherit your assets is to take appopriate steps to sign a valid Will drafted by an experienced attorney and signed in accordance with Florida law.  

    We know this can be confusing, but remember that knowledgeable attorneys can assist you to obtain your very own estate plan. Doing so ensures that your intentions about the inheritance you pass along to your heirs & beneficiaries will be carried out, and not left to interpretation under Florida law by attorneys and the courts. Consult with our estate planning attorneys today for answers to your particular estate planning needs. 

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