Who Inherits in Florida?
This is your 1-stop-shop for learning who inherits in Florida. If you are wondering about an inheritance. Or are involved in a Florida probate. If there is a will challenge or fight over a joint account. Here are the 5 secrets to inheriting in Florida.
The Rule of 2
There are 2 quick & simple rules for who inherits in Florida. This is your jumping off point for finding out if you get an inheritance.
It all starts with whether or not there is a will. And not just any will, but a valid last will.
Here’s your #1 secret. A valid last will governs all property that was owned by the decedent individually. A decedent is a Florida resident who is dead. If she owned property in her own, individual, name, it will pass under her last valid will. I’m not talking about assets owned in a revocable trust or in a joint account or a POD (“pay on death”). [ Those assets “go” according to the beneficiaries who are designated.]
Now, the #2 secret? Intestacy.
Dying Without a Will in Florida — heirs take it all !
Intestacy is the term that is used when a Florida resident dies without a will. That person is said to have died “intestate.”
Who inherits from an “intestate estate?” The “heirs” do. Who are “heirs?” Heirs are a person’s surviving spouse and also descendants. Take a look at section (20) of 731.201.
HOW MUCH do the heirs inherit? It depends on whether or not the descendants are the product of the decedent and her surviving spouse. When the decedent was not married, the descendants take it all. No descendants and no spouse?– family tree takes it all. If the decedent was married, and the spouse did not sign a prenup, and there are no descendants, the spouse takes it all. If the decedent was married and all her children were products of her marriage to her surviving spouse, the surviving spouse takes it all. (As long as he did not sign a prenup.) If the decedent had children or grandchildren and a second spouse (who did not sign a prenup), then the spouse gets half and the descendants get half.
To learn more about Florida intestacy, read Chapter 732 of the Florida Probate Code.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
So, you have learned about intestacy and who the heirs are.
You know that one’s will has to be a valid, last will.
You will consider whether the surviving spouse, or widow, or widower, signed a prenuptial agreement or not.
What else do I need to know to understand who inherits in Florida?
#3– Will substitutes pass property to the designated beneficiaries. 401(k)’s, Joint Accounts, Transfer-on-Death Accounts, Pay-on-Death Accounts, joint accounts and most insurance contracts and annuities have named beneficiaries. Sure, it’s true that some beneficiaries are the “estate.” Or that some beneficiaries don’t survive. But a valid will substitute bypasses probate. That property does not go under the will. It goes automatically to the named beneficiary.
#4 Revocable trusts. Revocable trusts dispose of all property which are in the trust, according to its terms.
#5 Will Contests and Challenges. Sometimes, there appears to be a perfectly valid will that is filed with the probate court. But someone objects to it. Be mindful that a will might be overturned or deemed invalid. In that case, a prior will may or may not be “revived”. Or, the person might be declared to have died without a will — intestate. Whether probate beneficiaries, family members, or non-probate beneficiaries inherit depends. On a lot. Good luck.