What Happens if I Die Without A Will?
Talking about your will and wishes after your death is not the most joyful dinnertime conversation. It is vitally important, though! Dying without a will in place leaves your family and friends having even less positive discussions about how your assets, estate, and children’s guardianship are handled. If you die without completing a will, your grieving family cannot make decisions based on your wishes; it’s now up to the state laws you live in. This can get complicated based on your family structure and type of assets.
Florida Intestacy Laws
Dying without a will means your state’s intestacy laws will go into effect. Intestacy laws mean that the state decides who will distribute the assets in your estate and how the assets are distributed. In Florida, your estate and assets could go to the surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, or other distant relatives. Unfortunately, without a will, surviving family members won’t have a say in who gets what or who doesn’t.
The way the Florida intestacy laws are laid out, the shares of the estate, and how they’re distributed are specific to your family situation. Meaning, if you’ve divorced and remarried with children from both marriages and have stepchildren too, it can get complicated how your assets are distributed. Let’s look at some common scenarios that happen when someone dies without a will.
What Happens If I Die Without a Will and I’m Single?
If you’re single with no children, you might wonder who would inherit your estate without a will instructing your wishes. According to Florida law, your parents are first in line with your estate. If your parents aren’t living, then your assets will go to your siblings. Even if you have a simple estate without many assets as a single person, completing a will makes it a seamless process for your family members to execute your wishes.
What Happens If I Die Without a Will and I’m Married?
If you’re married and don’t have a will in Florida, your surviving spouse will be the heir to your estate. Without any children, the Florida laws are clear that the spouse will inherit your estate. While this is probably the wish of most married couples, it’s a good idea to state these wishes yourself, instead of leaving it to the courts, to give everyone peace of mind.
What Happens If I Die Without a Will and I Have Kids?
Dying without a will when there are minor children in your care can make for a complex situation. With your estate, if your children are also descendants of your spouse, then your spouse receives your assets. For those who have children from a previous marriage, then the assets will be divided in half between the surviving spouse and those children.
The other part of this is determining guardianship for minor children upon your death. If your spouse is still alive, your children will remain with that parent as their guardian. If there is no living spouse or parent of the child, the state would determine guardianship. Every parent should say who will raise their children if they die while the children are minors. A will allows you to make that careful selection yourself.
What Happens If I Die Without a Will as an Unmarried Couple?
No matter if you’ve been with your partner for 10 years or 10 weeks, the Florida intestate laws are clear on who inherits your estate if there is no will. Florida laws first determine if there is a surviving spouse. If there is no spouse by legal marriage, the estate begins the line of succession to your family members. If you want your estate to go to a specific person or persons, a will is the only way to help ensure your wishes are carried out upon your death.
Start Planning Your Will Today
What the good news is, you don’t have to worry about how your estate, assets, and children’s guardian are determined once you have a will in place. You must complete your will correctly, though, so the executor will carry it out as you plan. The professionals at Merriman Law Firm, P.L.L.C., can help you with your will and estate planning. No matter how small or complex your entire estate is, our firm has the experience to make everything a straightforward process for you. We will help you throughout the process to have peace of mind that your wishes and estate plan are in place.
It’s never a fun topic to discuss death with the ones you love most. We hope you’ve seen how important it is to have a will in place because it can get very complex and emotional for your surviving family members without one. Contact us today for a free initial consultation to begin the process or give us a call at 239-301-3495. Stay up-to-date with us on Facebook and Instagram.