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What Happens If Someone Dies Without A Will? Intestate Succession In Florida


A will is one of the most basic yet important estate planning documents. It offers important guidance in the event of death and determines how property and assets are divided among beneficiaries. What happens if someone dies without a will? Then the court follows the rules of intestate succession. Our Tampa probate lawyer explains more about the process.

The Importance Of A Will In Probating An Estate

The death of a loved one is always difficult. In the midst of dealing with your grief and adjusting to their loss, there are also important practical matters that must be addressed. This includes settling their estate.

This is done through the Florida probate courts. In probating an estate, a last will and testament acts as a guide. It generally includes the following:

  • Designation of a personal representative, which is someone who represents the decedent (person who recently passed) throughout the probate process;
  • A list of all property and assets the decedent owes;
  • Names of intended beneficiaries and how property is divided between them.

Having a will is vital in communicating final wishes and in ensuring the probate process goes smoothly. However, according to the American Association of Retired People (AARP), as many as 60 percent of all adults do not have a will in place. In this situation, the probate court follows the rules of intestate succession.

What is Intestate Succession?

When someone dies without a will, it is referred to as ‘dying intestate’. This means that rather than following their final wishes in terms of how property and assets are divided, the probate court follows the rules of intestate succession as dictated under the Florida Statutes.

Intestate succession distributes property and assets among heirs based on specific relationships:

  • The decedent’s spouse: Their legally married spouse is first to inherit and, if there are no children, get everything.
  • Children from the marriage: They are entitled to a 50 percent share. They inherit the entire estate if there is no surviving spouse.
  • Parents: If they do not have children or a spouse or if both previously passed, the decedent’s parents are entitled to inherit.
  • Their siblings: Minus a spouse, children, or parents, the decedent’s siblings are entitled to inherit the estate.
  • Children of their siblings: If one of the siblings has passed, their children may be entitled to their share.

Minus children, a spouse, parents, or siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other blood relatives may then be entitled to inherit from the estate. In the rare case that there is no surviving family, any property or assets default to the state of Florida. 

Request A Consultation With Our Tampa Probate Lawyer

A will conveys your final wishes regarding how property and assets are divided. At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., we can guide you in putting one in place or represent you in probate proceedings if a loved one dies intestate. To request a consultation with our Hillsborough County probate lawyer, call or contact our office online today.





Location & Directions

Bubley & Bubley, P.A. is located in Tampa, FL and serves clients in and around Brandon, Odessa, Tampa, Oldsmar, Land O Lakes, Thonotosassa, Valrico, Wesley Chapel, Lutz, St Petersburg, Plant City & Brooksville, Safety Harbor, Holiday, Trilby, Crystal Beach, Ozona, Apollo Beach, New Port Richey, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Port Richey, San Antonio, Spring Hill, Lithia, Pasco County and Pinellas County.

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