Much of the reason why you and others in Hernando County are encouraged to see to your estate matters early on in life is to retain control over how your estate property is dispersed when you are gone. The probate court is there to help in the distribution of your estate, yet after working so hard throughout your life to accumalate assets, would you not want to have a say in who gets them? If you fail to create a will, you will not. In such a situation, the dispersal of your estate becomes subject to the state’s rules regarding intestate succession.
Intestate is the legal term used to describe scenarios where one died without a will. Section 732.102 of Florida’s Probate Code outlines the order in which your estate assets will be dispersed in such a case. If you are survived by a spouse but no other descendants, then your entire estate will go to him or her. The same is true if you do have descendants (children or grandchildren) who are also your spouse’s biological descendants. In the event that your descendants are not related to your surviving spouse, or if they are yet your spouse has descendants that are not related to you, then they recieve one-half of the estate, while your spouse would recieve the other half.
If you have no spouse, the intestate succession rules stipulate that your estate be dispersed in the following order:
- Your descendants
- Your parents
- Your siblings
- Their descendants
In the event that you have no surviving direct family members, your estate will be divided, with half of it going to your surviving maternal kindred, and the other half your paternal. Should no such relatives exist, it shall go the kindred of your most recently deceased spouse.