If You Die Without a Will, who is in Charge of Your Estate?

At the end of a long day where it seems that life is a mess and you’re the one who has to do everything for everybody, did you ever wonder what the world would be like if you were no longer around? Who would do everything that you do now? And if you died without having a Last Will and Testament (“Will”) in place who would be in charge of your estate?

In today’s post we’ll answer that question.

But fair warning; you may not like the answer.

Testacy and Intestacy.

In the world of trusts and estates, when a person dies, he or she does so either “testate” or “intestate.”  If you die “testate,” it means that you executed a Will before your death. If you die “intestate,” it means you did not.

The difference is critical, because whether or not you died having a Will (i.e., intestate, or testate) determines what happens to your property and who will be in charge of making decisions for your estate.

If you executed a Will before your death, (assuming it is valid and uncontested etc.), the court will distribute your property in accordance with its terms.

If you died without a Will, however, the court will use your state’s laws to decide who will get what.

Laws of Intestacy

Florida’s intestacy laws govern who can be your heirs and how their shares are to be distributed.

Intestacy can be in whole (e.g., you die without a Will or your Will is declared invalid) or in part (e.g., you have a Will, but a portion of it is held to be invalid).

The intestacy statute also determines who will be in charge of making the decisions about your property.

When there is no Will to tell the court who you want as your personal representative, the probate judge must choose one for you.  The judge does this by following the intestate statute. In Florida, the spouse of a decedent has the first right to be appointed as the personal representative. If you are not married at the time of your death, the judge will proceed through the statute to the next available and eligible person.

So, who will control your estate when you die without a Will?

It all depends on what the law allows and what the judge decides.

Protecting Your Family is Just a Phone Call Away.

Don’t leave planning for your future and that of your loved ones to chance. All it takes is one phone call to SJF Law Group to ensure that your wishes will be followed, and your loved ones taken care of when you are gone. We expertly guide individuals through the complex probate process, and capably handle all aspects of the creation, administration, and settlement of trusts as well.  When you work with the estate planning attorneys at SJF Law Group, you get more than just an estate plan: you get peace of mind. Call us at 954-580-3690 or email us at: [email protected] today.

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