Bank accounts, real estate, and vehicles are the most common assets left behind when a Florida resident passes away. What happens to a bank account when someone dies without a beneficiary in Florida? Read on to find out.
What Happens to Bank Account When Someone Dies Without Beneficiary in Florida? – The Verdict
If you own a bank account, you can have designated beneficiaries. Beneficiary designations allow you to transfer an asset directly to specific individuals upon death. The asset is not inherited through your will, which permits the beneficiaries to avoid probate.
It is important to understand beneficiary designations should be reviewed periodically. For example, if a bank account holder divorces but the former spouse is a designated beneficiary to his bank account, she has the right to claim it after his passing.
Please note that only bank accounts with designated beneficiaries other than the decedent and its estate do not go through probate. Any asset designating the estate as its beneficiary becomes part of the estate and must be distributed according to the decedent’s will.
What Happens to Bank Account When Someone Dies Without Beneficiary in Florida? – Intestate Estates
The last will is the core element in probate administration, as the document expresses the decedent’s wishes and how his or her estate should be distributed. If there is no will or the will is deemed invalid in court, the deceased’s estate is subject to Florida intestacy laws.
Florida Statutes §732.101 (1) specifies that “any part of the estate of a decedent not effectively disposed of by will passes to the decedent’s heirs as prescribed in the following sections of this code.”
If an asset is subject to probate, it is subject to intestacy as well. Bank accounts titled solely in the decedent’s name or designating the estate as a beneficiary must be distributed according to the laws of intestacy.
Florida law provides a strict order of division and distribution of the decedent’s assets. The court may also appoint a personal representative to wrap up the intestate estate and proceed with the statutory distribution.
As provided by Florida Statutes §732.104, “descent shall be per stirpes, whether to descendants or to collateral heirs.” The decedent’s surviving spouse has the preference in the distribution, followed by the descendants of the decedent.
Beneficiary Designation vs. Florida Probate – Why Should You Have Designated Beneficiaries to Your Bank Accounts?
Dealing with the death of a loved one is not easy. If you want to protect the interests of your family and save them from spending time in court trying to access your bank account upon death, beneficiary designations provide a valuable solution.
If you die with a will but your bank account is titled in your sole name, your loved ones must petition in court for probate. During probate, the court will issue Letters of Administration to appoint an executor.
With authority granted in court, the executor can communicate with the bank and access your account upon death. The problem is probate can be a lengthy and costly process, and your family may need the money in your account to pay other expenses before the executor’s appointment.
The best approach is to consult with an expert legal advisor in Florida to designate beneficiaries to your bank account.