My Spouse Died Without a Will in Florida—What Happens Now?
When a person dies without a will in Florida, they are considered to be ‘intestate’ in the eyes of the law. This means that their remaining assets and property will be divided up by the rules set forth under state law. You may be wondering: What happens if my spouse dies without a will? The answer is that it depends on the nature of your assets and property. Here, our Tampa probate lawyers explain the most important things you should understand if your spouse passed away without a will in Florida.
Starting Point: Not Everything is Subject to Probate
You may be worried that all of your assets are going to be held up in the probate process. That is not necessarily true. Some assets and property are not subject to probate. Here are three basic categories of things that may be transferred assets outside of the probate process:
- Marital Property: Marital property is not subject to probate. This is the most important thing you need to know if your spouse passed away without a will: Jointly owned marital property is not subject to probate. In Florida, marital property is generally owned with a property interest known as a ‘right of survivorship’. When one spouse dies, the other spouse automatically becomes the sole owner.
- Accounts/Benefits With Assigned Beneficiaries: Certain accounts and benefits with legally valid assigned beneficiaries are not subject to probate. The most common example is a retirement account. Assuming everything is set up properly, a 401(k) goes directly to the assigned beneficiary without going through probate.
- Property and Assets Held By a Trust: As a general matter, a person who passes away without a will also did not set up a trust. That being said, there are some exceptions. If your spouse puts assets or property in a trust, those things can be distributed outside of the probate process.
An Estate is Handled Under Florida’s Intestate Succession Laws
All remaining property is subject to probate. It will be divided in accordance with Florida’s intestate succession laws (Florida Statutes § 732.101). Often, the spouse is the primary heir when a person dies without a will. Indeed, if you and your partner had no children or if you share all of your children, then you will likely get everything in your spouse’s estate. However, if your spouse had a child (or children), then you will likely split some of the property/assets that go through probate with those children. If you have specific questions about your rights, a top-rated Florida estate planning lawyer can help.
Call Our Tampa, Florida Probate Lawyers for Immediate Help
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our Florida probate attorneys are skilled and reliable representatives for people and families. We are a boutique law firm providing personalized representation to our clients. Contact us now for a completely confidential initial consultation. We handle probate issues throughout Hillsborough County, including in Valrico, Keystone, Gibsonton, Thonotosassa, and Mango.