When you die intestate—without a will—Florida statutes dictate who gets your estate and inheritance. The best way to make sure your estate goes to who you want it to go to is to create an estate plan with at least a will, if not a will and a trust. An estate planning attorney will be able to help you create an estate plan that meets your needs and ensures that your estate goes where you want it to go.

When You Die Intestate

If you die intestate, there aren’t much probate attorneys can do to change how your estate is distributed. This is because the statutes dictate who gets your assets after all the bills are paid. The intestate succession law states that:

  • If you have a spouse but no kids, the entire estate goes to your spouse.
  • If you have a spouse and kids with your spouse, the entire estate goes to your spouse.
  • If you have a spouse, kids with your current spouse and kids from a previous relationship, half of the estate goes to your spouse and the other half to the kids from another relationship.
  • If you have a spouse and kids from the current relationship, and your spouse has kids from a previous relationship, half of the estate goes to your spouse and half goes to the kids you had together.
  • If you have children but no spouse, the entire estate goes to your children.

Even if you don’t have a home or a large estate, you should contact an estate probate attorneys to help you draft a will so that your estate goes to those you want it to go to. A more complicated estate would require will tax attorneys who understand tax laws for probate.

When You Die with a Will

When you write a will, it must be considered valid under Florida law for it to be effective. The probate process determines whether your will is valid. If it is, the complicated probate process goes a little smoother. A valid will must be signed and witnessed by at least two witnesses and it must name an executor. The will is held by a person, preferably an elder care attorney until you die. At that time, the attorney files the will with the probate court and starts the probate process. Before you can receive your inheritance, your will must go through one of three situations in probate:

  • Disposition without administration is when you don’t own land or real estate and your assets do not cover your final expenses and formal debts. While there is no court intervention, you must file the request with the court.
  • Summary administration is when your estate value is less than $75,000 or if your will is not filed for two years after your death. The petition for summary administration states that you want the estate to be given to those named in your will via an executor.
  • Formal administration is when your estate is valued at $75,000 or more. The first step is that the court determines if your will is valid. Then the court formally appoints the executor you named to handle your wishes as you listed them. The court ensures that the executor distributes your assets properly.

If you own a business, you should use a will and estate lawyer who has business attorneys on staff. For those with a larger estate and estates that contain businesses, you may be subject to taxes due from your heirs. In this case, a business tax attorney might be appropriate to sort everything out.

Heirs should also retain business law attorneys to ensure that they understand the ramifications of receiving an inheritance. This includes tax consequences. Once the property has been transferred and any taxes have been paid, the probate may be closed out.

State and Federal Taxes

If a decedent passed after Dec. 31, 2004, Florida does not have an estate tax or inheritance tax. However, the executor or heirs will need to file a federal estate tax return, which is due nine months after you die. As of 2018, an individual estate that is valued at $11,180,000 is required to file a federal tax return. Additionally, a federal estate and trust income tax return must be filed.

Contact Asset Protection Attorneys

If you do not have an estate plan, contact the asset protection attorneys and business law attorneys at France Law Firm to discuss your estate plan.