When a Florida resident dies without a will, that person died “intestate.” If there is no will to outline how the deceased’s estate must be distributed, the state’s intestacy law will dictate the settlement of the estate at death.
Read on to discover what a child inherits when a parent dies intestate in Florida.
Understanding Florida Intestacy – Key Elements
Florida Statutes §732.101 (1) establishes 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.”
The same statute adds that “the decedent’s death is the event that vests the heirs’ right to the decedent’s intestate property.”
Even though intestacy is not necessarily a negative factor, the main issue with dying without a will is that the statutory order of preference in the asset’s distribution may not meet the deceased’s wishes.
What is a Child Entitled to When a Parent Dies Without a Will in Florida? – The Verdict
Who is Responsible for the Child?
When a parent of minor children dies without a will, the surviving biological parent automatically becomes the child’s sole guardian. If both biological parents pass away at the same time, the court will designate a person to serve as the child’s guardian.
In most cases, a close family member will likely file a petition for guardianship in court to assume the child’s sole custody.
Please note that the court may not appoint the same person that the parent would choose. With a well-drafted will, a parent can appoint guardians for minor children in the event of death or incapacitation.
What Does a Child Inherit from an Intestate Estate?
It is fundamental to remember that not all property is subject to a will in Florida. Only assets held in the decease’s sole name are subject to probate through the last will or intestacy laws.
Depending on how the asset was titled, it is possible to avoid probate and permit the child to inherit outside intestacy law. Examples of assets inherited outside intestacy law include:
- Any property transferred into a trust
- Retirement accounts
- Bank/brokerage accounts under joint tenancy
- Bank/brokerage accounts with payable-on-death and transfer-on-death beneficiaries
- Life insurance or brokerage-related accounts with beneficiaries that are not the decedent
If the child is still a minor and cannot administer the inherited assets, the court will designate someone to act in the child’s best interest.
Under Florida law, assets without designated beneficiaries must be distributed following a statutory order of preference. Florida Statutes §732.102 specifies that:
- “If there is no surviving descendant of the decedent, the entire intestate estate
- If the decedent is survived by one or more descendants, all of whom are also descendants of the surviving spouse, and the surviving spouse has no other descendant, the entire intestate estate
- If there are one or more surviving descendants of the decedent who are not lineal descendants of the surviving spouse, one-half of the intestate estate
- If there are one or more surviving descendants of the decedent, 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, one-half of the intestate estate”