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Intestate Succession in Florida: Everything You Need to Know


Many people do not have a will or other estate plans in place to control the disposition of their assets upon their death.  If you are one of these people, there is a possibility that the state of Florida would decide how to distribute most of your assets upon your death. The process is known as “intestate succession.”

However, it is not too late to be in control of the distribution process. Consult with knowledgeable St. Petersburg estate planning lawyers to ensure that your assets pass to your heirs according to your wishes.

In the meantime, we are going to explain what Florida’s intestate succession is.

Which Assets Are Not Affected by Florida’s Intestate Succession?

Assets that transfer outside of probate are not affected by intestate succession in Florida. Therefore, Florida’s intestate succession laws only affect assets that you own in your individual name with no beneficiary designation. The following assets are not affected by intestate succession:

  • Assets transferred to a living trust;
  • Assets with named beneficiaries (including contingent beneficiaries);
  • Payable-on-death accounts;
  • Securities held in transfer-on-death accounts; and
  • Property and assets owned with someone else as joint tenants with rights of survivorship or tenants by the entirety.

Instead of those above listed assets being distributed pursuant to intestate succession, they will pass to the living joint owner or the designated beneficiary.

How Intestate Succession Works

Here’s how intestate succession works under Sections §732.101 to §732.111, Florida Statutes.

  • If you have a surviving spouse, your entire estate will pass to him or her (unless you have other living descendants that were descendants of your surviving spouse);
  • If you have no living spouse, your entire estate will pass to your surviving descendants (children);
  • If your living descendants are not the biological children of your spouse or your spouse has children who are not biologically related to you, your assets will be split between the spouse and the descendants;
  • If you have no living spouse or descendants, your entire estate will be split between your surviving parents;
  • If you have no surviving spouse, descendants, and parents, your assets will pass to your living siblings and/or their descendants;
  • If you have no living spouse, descendants, parents, siblings, and your siblings’ direct descendants, your estate will be split between your remaining relatives (i.e., other collateral heirs).

Can the State of Florida Get Your Assets if You Die Without a Will?

Although rare, your unclaimed property and assets can escheat into Florida’s coffers if you pass away without a will and do not have any surviving family members.

Property is escheated rarely because Florida’s intestate succession laws are designed in a way to transfer your property to your family and relatives. You can avoid intestate succession by simply drafting a will or by having a plan in place for your death. You should consult with experienced estate planning lawyers in St. Petersburg to develop an estate plan that fits your needs. Contact our attorneys at Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, for a case review. Call at 727-471-5868. We serve clients in the Tampa Bay area.


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