If a person dies without a Will (or if the Will is invalid), then the estate is “intestate”. This simply means that Florida law dictates the decedent’s heirs and who is entitled to administer the estate, i.e., be the personal representative/executor. If someone dies intestate and they are survived by a spouse but no living descendants, then the spouse receives the entire estate. If the decedent has a spouse and one or more descendants (all of whom are also descendants of the surviving spouse), then the surviving spouse will receive the first $60,000 of the probate estate plus one-half of the rest of the probate estate and the descendants will share the remaining half. If the decedent is survived by a spouse and one or more descendants (at least one of whom is also not a descendant of the surviving spouse), then the spouse receives one-half of theprobate estate and the descendants share the remaining half. If the decedent is not married at his or her death, the descendants will receive all of the estate. If there are no descendants, Florida Probate law looks to whether the decedent’s parents are still alive, then brothers and sisters, on so on down the line. Very rarely does the decedent’s estate go to the state of Florida – this will only happen if there are no heirs whatsoever.
Whether the estate is testate or intestate, there are other laws that affect who gets what including homestead property, exempt personal property, and statutory allowances to the surviving spouse or descendants supported by the decedent. To learn more about Florida Probate, please contact the Law Offices of Laurie Ohall.