When a foreign national dies without a will in Florida, the distribution of their assets may become a complex and challenging process.
Florida law has specific rules for determining who inherits the property of a person who dies intestate, meaning without a valid will. These rules may differ from the laws of the person’s home country and may also affect their tax obligations and the administration of their estate.
Below, we will explain some of the main aspects of Florida’s intestate succession laws and how they apply to foreign nationals who own property in Florida.
Who Are Considered Foreign Nationals?
A foreign national is a person who is not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. Foreign nationals may come to Florida for various reasons, such as tourism, business, education, or investment.
They may also own real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, or other assets in Florida. Some foreign nationals may have family members or beneficiaries who live in Florida or elsewhere in the United States.
When a Foreign National Dies without a Will in Florida
Florida’s intestate succession laws are based on the principle of blood relation. This means that the property of a person who dies without a will passes to their closest relatives according to a hierarchy established by the law.
The law also considers whether the person had a surviving spouse and whether they had any children or other descendants.
The following are some of the possible scenarios and outcomes:
- If there is a surviving spouse and no descendants, the spouse inherits the entire estate.
- If there is a surviving spouse and descendants who are also descendants of the spouse, and neither the deceased person nor the spouse had any other children, the spouse inherits the entire estate.
- If there is a surviving spouse and descendants who are not all descendants of the spouse, or if either the deceased person or the spouse had any other children, the spouse inherits half of the estate and the descendants inherit the other half.
- If there is no surviving spouse but there are descendants, the descendants inherit the entire estate.
- If there is no surviving spouse and no descendants, but there are parents, siblings, or other relatives, the estate passes to them according to a priority order defined by the law.
- If the deceased person had no surviving relatives at all, the estate escheats to the state of Florida.
What Are Some of the Complications that May Arise?
When a foreign national dies without a will in Florida, there may be several complications during the probate process, such as:
- Identifying and locating the heirs: Depending on where the heirs live and whether they had any contact with the deceased person, it may be difficult to find them and notify them of their inheritance rights.
It may also be necessary to prove their identity and relationship to the deceased person through official documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, or DNA tests.
- Dealing with multiple jurisdictions: If the deceased person owned property or had interests in more than one state or country, it may be necessary to open probate proceedings in each jurisdiction and comply with their respective laws and procedures.
This may involve hiring attorneys or representatives in each location and resolving conflicts or inconsistencies between the different legal systems.
- Handling tax issues: Depending on where the deceased person and their heirs reside and where their property is located, there may be different tax implications for their estate.
For example, there may be federal estate taxes, state inheritance taxes, income taxes, or foreign taxes that apply to their assets. It may also be necessary to file tax returns and pay tax liabilities in each jurisdiction.
We Can Help You
If you are a foreign national who owns property in Florida, or if you are an heir or beneficiary of such a person, you need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the probate process and protect your rights and interests.
At Jurado & Associates, P.A., we have extensive experience in handling probate matters for foreign nationals in Florida.
We are committed to providing you with exceptional service and results-oriented solutions. We are available to answer your questions and address your concerns at any time.