If you die without a validly written will in Florida, your assets are subject to the state’s intestacy laws. An intestate is someone who dies without a valid will. If you die intestate, your assets escheat to the state only if you die without any surviving heirs. Rarely does this occur, and in most cases, an intestate’s property passes to his living heirs in a predetermined order. Your heirs are your living blood relatives, living descendants or your surviving spouse.
If you die with a validly created will, your heirs and beneficiaries will receive their shares of your estate according to your will in most cases. However, Florida law allows your surviving spouse and your surviving dependents to elect a 30 percent share of your probate assets. If your surviving spouse elects the 30 percent share of your elective estate, he or she must give up your testamentary disposition. In other words, if you die and your wife survives you, your wife can elect her elective share pursuant to Florida law or her disposition as set forth in your will. As such, Florida law prohibits you from totally disinheriting your surviving dependent children and your spouse in most circumstances. Your family’s elective share includes probate and non-probate property. Your surviving spouse and children may further have rights to a family allowance and exempt homestead property.
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