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Home > Blog > Probate > What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will in West Palm Beach?

What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will in West Palm Beach?

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You may be wondering how the process works for dividing property in Florida when someone dies without a valid will. The term is called “intestate,” and probate will differ in this case versus someone with a will. However, dying without a will won’t automatically mean Florida state will end up receiving the assets. Assets will only be turned over to the state in the event the decedent died without any heirs.

If you have a loved one who passed away, don’t attempt to handle the probate on your own. Instead, speak with an experienced West Palm Beach probate attorney to learn more about possible options. At the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A., we routinely represent Florida clients for probate matters, including ones where the decedent passed away with no will.

Assets that Don’t Pass Through Probate

Some assets are not subject to probate, so the absence of a valid will won’t impact them. Examples of some of these assets that don’t go through probate include:

  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Property that was transferred into a living trust
  • Bank accounts that are payable on death
  • Funds in a 401(k), IRA, or other retirement accounts
  • Property that is titled in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety
  • Securities that are in a transfer-on-death account

Any of these assets will pass directly to the named beneficiary or surviving co-owner, whether the decedent had a will or not.

How Intestate Succession Works?

Who gets what when someone dies intestate will vary based on who your surviving family members are, such as a spouse, parents, children, etc. Here’s a quick overview of who typically gets what during probate for someone without a will:

  • If you have children but no spouse, then the children will inherit everything.
  • If you have a spouse but no descendants, then the spouse will inherit everything.
  • If you have a spouse and descendants from both you and this spouse, and the spouse has no other descendants, then the spouse will inherit everything.
  • If you have a spouse and descendants from both you and that spouse, but the spouse also has descendants from a prior relationship, then your spouse will receive ½ of your intestate property and your descendants the other ½.
  • If you have a spouse and descendants from you and someone other than your spouse, then your spouse gets ½ of your intestate property while your descendants get the remaining ½.
  • If you have parents but no spouse or descendants, then your parents will inherit everything.
  • If you have siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents, then your siblings inherit everything.
  • And goes further down the line of succession.

Contact a West Palm Beach Probate Attorney

There are hundreds of probate rules that can impact the process. These rules work in concert with applicable Florida laws that cover probate, wills, and guardianships. It can be overwhelming for a personal representative who doesn’t know the rules and regulations. You should not attempt to handle a probate matter on your own. For assistance with a probate matter in West Palm Beach, contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A., today to schedule an initial consultation.

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