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What happens to my assets if I die without a will?

This depends on who survives you and how they are related to you and to each other. Florida Statutes govern what happens if you die without a will. This is called dying intestate.

Your lineal descendants are your children, grandchildren and so on. Lineal descendants include legally adopted children, but do not include stepchildren who are not legally adopted.

If you die leaving only a surviving spouse and no lineal descendants, your spouse will receive everything. If you die leaving a spouse and lineal descendants, and if the lineal descendants are also your surviving spouse’s descendants, the surviving spouse receives $60,000.00 plus one-half of the balance of your assets, and the lineal descendants receive the rest. If you die leaving a surviving spouse and your lineal descendants (who are not lineal descendants of your spouse i.e. your spouse’s stepchildren or step-grandchildren, etc.) then your spouse and your lineal descendants each receive one-half of your estate.

If you die leaving no surviving spouse, but leaving lineal descendants, then the lineal descendants receive the entire estate.

If you die leaving neither a spouse nor lineal descendants, then your entire estate will pass to your mother and father. If they are not alive, then your estate will pass to your brothers and sisters and their descendants. If there are still no survivors, then the estate is equally divided among the descendants on the maternal and paternal sides of the family.

All of the foregoing assumes that there is no prenuptial agreement in place, which would affect the outcome.

            The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available in this article are for general informational purposes only. Information in this article may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. Readers should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information in this article without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation.

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