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What happens if a deceased loved one did not leave a will?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | Heirs & Beneficiaries

A will is a part of an estate plan, and when a person passes away, there is a distribution of assets to their heirs through the legal process of probate. Typically, parties look to a decedent’s estate plan for guidance on what they want to happen with their legacies––but what if there is no will present?

Who gets the estate if there is no will?

In Florida, if a person passes away without a will, all their assets will go to their spouse or closest relatives. State laws dictate the order of succession based on the decedent’s marital status and familial relationships:

  • Married with no children – property goes to the decedent’s spouse
  • Married with children outside the decedent’s marriage – one half of the estate would go to the decedent’s spouse, and the decedent’s children would split the other half
  • Unmarried with children – property goes to their children
  • Unmarried with no children – property goes to their parents
  • Unmarried with no children and no living parents – the decedent’s siblings would split the estate

Based on this, you can see that the law does not account for relationships not defined by law or the quality of relationships a person has with parents, siblings and other family members.

Why is a will important?

Preparing for the future is essential to provide for your loved ones when you are gone. When you have a valid will, the courts can distribute assets according to your wishes. This allows you to define your legacy and even avoid potential family disputes that can arise in the future.

Drafting a will has its complexities, from choosing your witnesses and naming your executors to identifying your beneficiaries and preparing strategies in case someone contests your will. A lot can happen in life and creating a will can give you and your loved one’s valuable peace of mind during an otherwise tumultuous time.


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