Past posts on this blog addressed the question of whether a person truly needs a will. This question no doubt arises from the fact that (according to Gallup), only roughly 44% of adults both in Florida and throughout the rest of the U.S. actually have one.
State law indeed dictates the administration of an estate when one does intestate (without a will). Knowing Florida’s intestate succession guidelines further reveals the importance of having a will.
Distribution of an intestate estate
Section 732.102 of Florida’s state statutes says that if one who dies without a will does not have any surviving issue (direct lineal descendants) but does leave behind a spouse, then the spouse inherits the entire estate. The surviving spouse also inherits the entire estate if one does have descendants but those descendants are also the spouse’s issue. The spouse’s share of the estate falls to one-half if the decedent’s issue are not direct descendants of the spouse or if the spouse has direct descendants that are also not the issue of the decedent.
If there is no surviving spouse, then the law mandates the intestate estate descends in the following order:
- To the decedent’s issue
- To the decedent’s parents
- To the decedent’s siblings
- To the decedent’s maternal and paternal kindred (in equal portion)
If one who dies intestate does not have any surviving relatives but does have a spouse who preceded him or her in death, then the estate would go to the surviving kindred of the predeceased spouse.
Reasons people need a will
No allowances exist for anyone not directly related to the decedent. Thus, if someone wants a nonrelative (be it a friend, business partner, charitable organization or a college or university), he or she must state that wish in a will.