What If There Is No Will?
When a person passes away with titled assets, probate is necessary to pass the assets down to heirs. During probate, a will is checked for legitimacy. If the will is found to be valid, the probate assets (like real estate, bank accounts, stocks, cars, etc.) are distributed accordingly. If there is no Will, this could complicate the process.
But what is a will? And what happens if your friend or loved one passes away without one?
A will in the State of Florida is a document that is drafted and signed by the decedent (the person who passed away) and two witnesses. The document follows Florida legal requirements that qualify it as a Will. The decedent can name a personal representative (also known as an executor) to carry out the distribution of probate assets to the beneficiaries (the family members, friends, loved ones, organizations, etc. that the decedent adds to the will).
If someone dies without a valid will, the terminology used is that “the decedent has died intestate.” So long as a decedent has property in their name when they die, probate is necessary regardless of whether or not a decedent dies with a valid will or intestate.
Intestate decedents’ probate assets usually go to the spouse if there are no children would qualify as heirs. If the decedent is unmarried, but has heirs, the decedent’s assets will be distributed among the heirs according to Florida law. If the decedent is unmarried at the time of death, has no heirs, and no surviving parents, their assets go to their siblings. There are many more laws, exceptions, and provisions that could complicate the probate process.
If you have any questions about navigating the testate or intestate probate process, or are in need of a probate attorney, contact us for your free consultation.