What if there is no Will?

Intestate Succession

Intestate Succession is the probate process used when no will is found, or if the will is judged to be invalid. Depending on who survived the decedent, the assets are divided in a mechanically structured manner pursuant to Florida Statute.

If there is a surviving spouse and no lineal descendants (children, grandchildren):
  • The surviving spouse gets everything.
If there are lineal descendants who are also lineal descendants of the surviving spouse (and the surviving spouse has no other descendants):
  • The surviving spouse gets everything.
If there is a surviving spouse and one or more lineal descendants who are not also lineal descendants of the surviving spouse:
  • The surviving spouse receives one-half of the estate.
  • The descendants receive the other half.
If there are one or more surviving descendants of the decedent, all of whom are also descendants of the surviving spouse, and the surviving spouse has one or more descendants who are not descendants of the decedent:
  • The surviving spouse receives one half of the estate.
  • The descendants receive the other half.
If there is no surviving spouse but there are lineal descendants:
  • The estate is split into equal shares for the children.
  • If a child (of the decedent) is deceased, their share is passed on to their children.
If there is no surviving spouse and no lineal descendants:
  • The assets go to the decedent’s surviving parents, or their surviving relatives.
  • If there are no surviving parents, the assets go to the decedent’s brothers and sisters (or their lineal descendants).
If there is none of the above, the estate shall be divided in half, going to the maternal and paternal sides of the family as follows:
  • To the grandmother and grandfather equally (or their survivors).
  • If there is no grandparent, to uncles and aunts (or their descendants)

Certain exceptions apply to the homestead property, certain personal property, and a statutory allowance to the surviving spouse and any lineal descendants or ascendants the decedent supported. If the homestead property was titled solely to the decedent, the surviving spouse receives a ‘life estate,’ which means they will own the property until their death, at which point the property will transfer to the lineal descendants. The spouse may choose to take a one-half interest in the homestead as a tenant in common, with the lineal descendants retaining the other half. For more information on this exception, visit our page on the matter. If there are no lineal descendants, the surviving spouse automatically receives full ownership rights of the homestead.