What Happens When You Die without a Will? (Transcript)
D. "Rep" DeLoach III, Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law Attorney
When someone dies without a will in Florida, then their probate estate is distributed according to the laws of intestacy. Now, the laws of intestacy means that the assets are distributed according to the decedent's family tree in a relatively orderly manner. Now, contrary to popular belief, if you die without a last will and testament, the assets are not distributed to the state of Florida. Actually, the state of Florida has written a will for you, and the will that's written for you according to the rules of intestacy. So again, if someone dies without a last will and testament, then the state of Florida has written that will, and the will basically says that for instance, if you have assets, the assets goes to your spouse. If you have no spouse, then the assets goes to your children. If you have no children, then it goes to your parents. If the decedent had no parents, then it goes to the decedent's siblings.
The assets are distributed to the family in an orderly way. Maybe it's just exactly what the decedent would have wanted. So particularly, what a will does is it changes what the rules of intestacy are, where your assets could disinherit certain people or go to certain people in certain ways. The other thing that the will does is it nominates who's the executor, who's the personal representative of the estate. So in particular, if you think your children or heirs are going to argue, then you always want to appoint the right executor, or the right personal representative in your last will and testament.