Who Inherits My Property If I Don’t Have An Estate Plan?
According to CNBC, about 2 out of 3 Americans have no estate plan. As seasoned Tampa estate planning lawyers, we are disheartened by those numbers. Creating an estate plan is a simple, powerful tool for taking control of what happens to your property when you die. Without one, chaos can ensue.
What happens if you pass without a will? Does your family get to just pick and choose what they want? Actually, Florida has rules in place for when someone dies without a will, which is called dying “intestate.” Read one for an overview.
Rules of Intestate Succession
Florida has created detailed statutes to identify who receives your assets. Your estate assets will be passed according to the following:
- If you are survived by only a spouse, he or she gets everything. This is very simple.
- If you are survived by a spouse and children you had with that spouse, then your spouse gets everything.
- If you have no surviving spouse but do have children, then your children inherit everything equally. For example, if you have two daughters, they will each receive 50% of your estate.
- If you have a surviving spouse and children from a different relationship, your assets get split between your spouse and children. For example, you might have two children from a previous marriage. Your children will split half the estate and your surviving spouse gets the other half.
- If you and your surviving spouse had children, but your spouse had children with a different person, then your spouse gets half the estate and your children split the other half.
- If you have no surviving spouse or children, your parents will inherit your estate.
- If you have no spouse, children, or parents, then your siblings will inherit the estate equally.
The rules state you can continue to go down the family tree if you have no siblings until you get to a relative. For example, your nieces or nephews might inherit from you if they are the only remaining relatives.
Problems with Intestate Succession
Perhaps the biggest problem is that people will inherit from you when you wish they got nothing. As an example, you might have lost touch with your siblings. However, they could get your entire estate if you have no children or parents living.
There are simple ways to avoid intestate succession. One is to create a will with an experienced estate planning attorney. With a will, you can identify who you want to inherit from you.
Another option is to create a living trust. You fund the trust while living and it will function a lot like a will when you die.
You Can’t Avoid Probate by Dying Intestate
Because creating a will or trust is easy, why do people continue to die intestate? One reason is a mistaken belief that they can avoid probate. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Estates still go through probate when there is no will, so you gain no benefit.
Contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. for Estate Planning Advice
It’s never too early or too late to create an estate plan. Contact us to find out more.