When a foreigner dies owning property in Florida, the legal process of transferring the property to the heirs can be complicated and costly. This is especially true if the foreigner did not have a will that specified how the property should be distributed.
Below, we will explain some of the common challenges that arise when a foreigner dies owning property in Florida but does not have a will and how we can help you navigate them.
What is a Will and Why is it Important?
A will is a legal document that expresses the wishes of a person regarding how their assets should be distributed after their death.
A will can also name a personal representative—the person responsible for administering the estate and carrying out the instructions in the will—as well as designate guardians for minor children, provide for charitable donations and specify funeral arrangements.
Having a will is important because it gives you control over how your estate is handled and who inherits your property. In Florida, when you die without a will, your estate will be subject to the state’s laws of intestacy, which may not reflect your preferences or the best interests of your loved ones.
What are the Challenges of Dealing with the Estate of a Foreigner Who Died Owning Property in Florida but Did Not Have a Will?
When a foreigner dies owning property in Florida without a will, there are several challenges that their heirs may face, such as:
- Difficulty in identifying and locating the heirs and beneficiaries, especially if they live in different countries and have different names, languages, and cultures.
- Conflicts and disputes among the heirs and beneficiaries, especially if they have different expectations and interests regarding the estate.
- Delays during the administration of the estate, especially if there are multiple jurisdictions and legal systems involved, and if there are taxes, debts, liens, or claims against the estate.
- Loss of control and flexibility in managing the estate, especially if the laws of intestacy do not reflect the wishes or the needs of the foreigner or their loved ones.
How Does Florida Law Treat the Property of a Foreigner Who Dies Without a Will?
When a foreigner who owns property in Florida dies, their estate has to go through ancillary probate in Florida.
Ancillary probate is a type of probate that is conducted in Florida for the property that the foreigner owned in the state. Ancillary probate is necessary when the foreigner’s domicile (permanent residence) was in another state or country.
Ancillary probate only deals with the Florida property. However, it still requires the appointment of a personal representative (also called an executor), which will normally be the same person who represented the decedent’s estate in the foreign probate proceeding.
If the foreigner did not have a will, their estate is left at the discretion of Florida’s intestacy laws, which are based on the degree of kinship between the deceased foreigner and his or her heirs.
The closest relatives will inherit the property. If there are no living relatives, the property will escheat to the state of Florida.
According to Florida’s intestacy laws, the right to share in property inheritance is distributed among the heirs as follows:
- If the decedent was survived by a spouse and had no surviving descendants, the surviving spouse inherits everything.
- If the decedent was survived by a spouse and one or more descendants, all of whom are also descendants of the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has no other descendants, the surviving spouse inherits everything.
- If the decedent was survived by a spouse and one or more descendants who are not lineal descendants of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse gets one-half of the estate and the descendants inherit the other half of the estate.
- If the decedent was survived by a spouse and one or more descendants all of whom are also descendants of the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has one or more descendants who are not descendants of the decedent, the surviving spouse gets one-half and the descendants of the decedent get the remaining one half of the estate.
- If the decedent died without any spouse or descendants, the entire estate goes to the decedent’s father and mother equally, or to the survivor of them.
Please see Section 732.102 and Section 732.103, Florida Statutes for more details on intestate succession.
When a Foreigner Dies Owning Property in Florida but Does Not Have Will… We Can Help
When a foreigner dies owning property in Florida but does not have a will, the situation can be very challenging and confusing for the heirs. They may not know how to handle the probate process, what their rights and obligations are, or how to protect their interests. That is why they need a Florida Probate Attorney who can guide them through the legal maze and help them achieve the best possible outcome.
At Jurado & Associates, P.A., we specialize in estate planning and probate for foreigners and their families. We have the experience, knowledge, and skills to handle the complex and sensitive issues that arise when a foreigner who owns property in Florida dies without a will. If you need our help, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us by phone at (305) 921-0976, by email at [email protected], or by WhatsApp at +1 (305) 921-0976.