When a loved one passes away, the court looks to the Last Will and Testament as a guide for distributing the assets of the deceased. But what happens when there is no will? Does the estate still have to go through probate?
The only way to legally transfer an asset owned solely by the deceased (and without a named beneficiary on the account) is to go through the probate process. So, while having a Will can certainly simplify things, it’s not a requirement. Probate can still handle your loved one’s estate; it will just work a little differently.
In these instances, Florida statutes dictate how the assets will be distributed. You’ll still need to get court approval to act as the designated representative and you’ll still be required to inventory the assets and contact creditors and potential heirs. But once all the accounting has been done, the court will distribute the assets of the estate in accordance with an order of priority, set out in state statutes.
This priority looks first for a surviving spouse and direct descendants, but if none exist, there is a long line of potential heirs to be considered. Surviving parents and siblings, for example, nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles – any relationship to the deceased creates a possibility of inheritance. If no heirs can be found, the state will take the proceeds of the estate.
So, what should you do if your loved one has passed away without a Will? Call us today! Spiegel Law, PLLC can guide you through the probate process and help you protect any rights you may have as a beneficiary.