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My mother died without a will, now what?

You suspected that your mother didn't have a will on file, but you were too shy to ask her about her estate planning. Now that she has passed away, you need to sort through her estate without a will to provide guidance.

The state of Florida has what are called intestacy laws, which govern the distribution of a decedent's assets after someone dies without a will. Let's take a look at what the intestacy process entails.

Not all assets will fall under the intestacy process

Only certain assets will fall under the intestacy process. Some assets will pass directly to heirs and won't be governed by intestate succession. This property includes:

-- Property contained in a living trust;

-- Proceeds from a life insurance policy;

-- Assets contained in IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement accounts;

-- Assets and investments held within transfer-on-death financial accounts;

-- Monies held in payable-on-death financial accounts; and

-- Jointly held property that will transfer to the joint tenant upon death.

What happens to intestacy assets in Florida?

After the probate court satisfies payments owed to creditors, it will distribute the remaining assets according to intestacy laws. The state of Florida offers the following rules of intestate succession:

-- When there are surviving children, but no surviving spouse: The children will receive everything to be divided equally among them.

-- When there are no surviving children, but a spouse survives: The spouse receives everything.

-- When a spouse survives as well as the decedent and the spouse's children, and the spouse doesn't have other descendants: The spouse receives everything.

-- When the spouse survives along with the children of the decedent and the spouse, and the spouse has additional descendants from a separate partnership: The spouse will receive half of the property and the descendants of the decedent and the spouse will receive the other half.

-- When the spouse survives and descendants of the decedent and a different partnership survive: The spouse receives half and the descendants receive the other half.

-- When only the parents of the descendant survive: The parents receive everything.

-- When siblings survive, and there are no parents or descendants: The siblings will receive everything.

Get help from an attorney if your mother died intestate

It can be a confusing process to sort through the estate of someone who died without a will. A lawyer can be immeasurably helpful in these circumstances to protect the inheritance rights of potential beneficiaries.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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