When someone dies owning assets in Florida, the decedent’s estate must go through probate within state jurisdiction. During probate, the court will verify the validity of the decedent’s will and appoint an executor to distribute the estate as outlined in the document.
What happens if there is no last will? Keep reading for an overview of Florida’s next of kin law.
Florida Next of Kin – Understanding the Concept
The term “next of kin” is described by Florida Statutes §744.102(14) as “those persons who would be heirs at law of the ward or alleged incapacitated person if the person were deceased and includes the lineal descendants of the ward or alleged incapacitated person.”
Florida Statutes §731.201(20) defines the term “heirs at law” as “persons, including the surviving spouse, who are entitled under the statutes of intestate succession to the property of a decedent.”
If someone dies owning assets solely in his or her name in Florida, that person’s estate will likely go through probate. During probate, the court’s purpose is to verify the validity of the decedent’s last will and appoint a person to execute the estate.
When there is no will listing the decedent’s heirs and the person designated as the testator’s personal representative, the court must adjudicate the case under Florida intestacy law. The legal term “intestate” means “no will.”
Florida Next of Kin Law – Intestate Succession
Florida Statutes §732.103 describes that “the part of the intestate estate not passing to the surviving spouse under Fla. Stat. §732.102, or the entire intestate estate if there is no surviving spouse, descends as follows:
- To the descendants of the decedent
- If there is no descendant, to the decedent’s father and mother equally, or to the survivor of them
- If there is none of the foregoing, to the decedent’s brothers and sisters and the descendants of deceased brothers and sisters”
Florida Statutes §732.103(4) outlines that “if there is none of the foregoing, the estate shall be divided, one-half of which shall go to the decedent’s paternal, and the other half to the decedent’s maternal, kindred in the following order:
- To the grandfather and grandmother equally, or to the survivor of them
- If there is no grandfather or grandmother, to uncles and aunts and descendants of deceased uncles and aunts of the decedent
- If there is either no paternal kindred or no maternal kindred, the estate shall go to the other kindred who survive, in the order stated above”
Florida Statutes §732.103(5) adds that “if there is no kindred of either part, the whole of the property shall go to the kindred of the last deceased spouse of the decedent as if the deceased spouse had survived the decedent and then died intestate entitled to the estate.”
Lastly, Florida Statutes §732.103(6) provides that if there is “none of the foregoing, and if any of the descendants of the decedent’s great-grandparents were Holocaust victims (…), then to the descendants of the great-grandparents.”
In such cases, “the court shall allow any such descendant to meet a reasonable, not unduly restrictive, standard of proof to substantiate his or her lineage.”