Miami Probate Attorney’s Guide to Preventing Intestate Succession

A Probate Attorney’s Guide to Preventing Intestate Succession in Miami FL

Florida residents often fail to understand the importance of estate planning. However, without the services of a probate attorney in Miami, they could find courts ignoring their wishes when they die. Estate planning is key to directing critical decisions. These include who will care for them should they become incapacitated and how to distribute their property after they die. If somebody dies with no living trust or will, the intestate succession law comes into play. These laws provide for those close to the deceased person. However, these laws may not provide for the deceased’s loved ones in the way they intended or expected.

Which Problems Surround Intestate Succession?

The Florida laws of intestate succession are clear. When someone dies leaving behind only their spouse and no descendants, the spouse will inherit everything. If the deceased person has no spouse but does have children, those children inherit the estate. This system works for some families. However, in others, there are numerous issues that could cause a host of problems. Let’s look at one case. Someone dies and he or she has no spouse. He or she does have two surviving children, as well as a stepson or stepdaughter. Under the intestate succession laws, the stepchild inherits nothing from the estate.

Mixed Families Struggle with Intestate Succession

In the past, there were fewer issues surrounding intestate succession. These days, however, mixed families are a lot more common. A probate attorney in Miami can advise about how best to draw up a will to include stepchildren. Under intestate succession, stepchildren don’t have any interest in their step-parents estate. Also, a parents biological children may not receive any money from their deceased parent if that parent is survived by a spouse. This may be a step-parent and create tension between the decedent’s biological children and the surviving spouse. As you see, if the deceased person has no will, the law often produces unintended consequences that can be very significant and detrimental.

Many Florida residents are unaware that loved ones could be unintentionally included or excluded. However, an estate planning attorney in Miami could help to keep this situation from arising.

What If There Are No Descendants or Spouse?

The intestate succession law in Florida has a hierarchy in any situation where there are no descendants or spouses. The deceased’s assets will pass to his or her relatives in this order:

  • Parents (shared equally or 100 percent to one parent if the other is deceased)
  • Siblings and any descendants of siblings who are deceased

Should there be no relatives in either of these categories, the estate is split in half. Half will go to the father’s side and the other half will go to the mother’s side. Here is the order of distribution:

  • Fifty percent will go to the deceased’s grandfather and 50 percent to his or her grandmother (One hundred percent will go to one grandparent should one be deceased).
  • Aunts, uncles, and the descendants of any deceased aunt or uncle

Should no relatives remain in any of these categories on one side, the entire estate goes to the remaining side. Should no relatives survive on either parent’s side, the estate passes to relatives of the deceased’s final deceased spouse.

This hierarchy can get very complicated. It could result in the deceased’s assets going to someone that he or she wouldn’t have selected.

Avoiding This Problem

Using the services of a probate attorney in Miami is the best way to avoid this problem from occurring. By drawing up a will with an estate planning attorney in Miami, there will be no need for the intestate succession laws. Contact Thomas McDonald Law today and arrange your appointment to discuss your will.

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