What if there is no will?
If there is no will at all, the estate is said to pass intestate. In this situation, Florida law has default rules that govern how an estate will be distributed.
Typically, if there is a surviving spouse and that spouse is the parent of all the decedent’s children, then that spouse will receive 100% of the distributions. This means that the children from that marriage will receive no direct distributions from the decedent’s estate.
If it is a non-nuclear family, meaning the decedent had children with multiple partners, then typically 50% of the distributions will go to the surviving spouse, 50% to be distributed among all the decedent’s children.
While we need not go into all the details and possible scenarios here, the Florida intestacy statute does provide default rules that govern distributions for intestate estates in virtually every conceivable family situation. Of course, the distributions that the Florida intestacy statue requires may be very different than what the decedent would have wanted, which is why it is so important to have a will so that your estate can be distributed as you want.
If there is a will, but the will does not govern all of a decedent’s assets, then those assets governed by the will are distributed through the probate process and those assets that are not governed by the will are distributed according to the intestacy statute. This statute designates certain people as heirs and also specifies how much of the intestate estate will pass to those heirs.