The Florida Probate Code includes provisions exclusively set forth to govern cases involving intestacy – situations wherein someone died without a will. According to state law, “any part of the estate of a decedent not effectively disposed of by will passes to the decedent’s heirs” (as prescribed by Fla. Stat. §732).
Keep reading to find out who inherits the assets of someone who died intestate in Florida.
Inheritance Preference in Intestacy – Decedent’s Surviving Spouse
Primarily, the decedent’s surviving spouse has the preference during the distribution of assets that comprise an intestate estate. As listed by Florida Statutes §732.102, “the intestate share of the surviving spouse is:
- 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”
Inheritance Preference in Intestacy – Determining the Share of Other Heirs
If the deceased person left no surviving spouse or part of the intestate estate is not passing to the surviving spouse, Florida law provides a specific order of preference to determine who will inherit the assets within the intestate estate.
According to Florida Statutes §732.103, the assets held within an intestate estate that does not pass to the decedent’s surviving spouse descends as follows:
- To the descendants of the decedent
- If there is no descendant, to the decedent’s father and mother equally, or to the survivor of them
- If there is none of the foregoing, to the decedent’s brothers and sisters and the descendants of deceased brothers and sisters”
Still, in case none of these options are available, the intestate estate must be divided between the decedent’s paternal and maternal kindred. Florida Statutes §732.103 (4) provide that “one-half of which shall go to the decedent’s paternal, and the other half to the decedent’s maternal, kindred in the following order:
- To the grandfather and grandmother equally, or to the survivor of them
- If there is no grandfather or grandmother, to uncles and aunts and descendants of deceased uncles and aunts of the decedent
- If there is either no paternal kindred or no maternal kindred, the estate shall go to the other kindred who survive, in the order stated above
- If there is no kindred of either part, the whole of the property shall go to the kindred of the last deceased spouse of the decedent as if the deceased spouse had survived the decedent and then died intestate entitled to the estate”
Inheritance Preference in Intestacy – Special Cases
If the intestate estate cannot be distributed to the decedent’s paternal and maternal kindred, the letter of law states that “if any of the descendants of the decedent’s great-grandparents were Holocaust victims (Fla. Stat. 626.9543(3)(a)) (…)” then the assets must go to the descendants of the deceased person’s great-grandparents.