The estate of a Miami resident who dies without a will is subject to the Florida Intestate Statutes. An intestate proceeding would need to be filed by a family member, heir or other interested party. The Miami-Dade Probate Court will appoint a personal representative to manage the estate assets, close out bank accounts and other financial accounts, sell estate property, pay claims against the estate and distribute the assets to the heirs under the Florida intestate laws. The personal representative is typically the surviving spouse, child or close relative of the decedent, but can also be a friend, attorney or neutral third party designated by the court if there is no one chosen by the family to act as personal representative.
Florida Intestate Right of Succession
Heirs of the decedent shall inherit in accordance with following Florida Intestate laws:
• If there are no surviving descendants (children) of the decedent, then the surviving spouse receives the entire estate.
• If there are surviving children of the decedent, then the surviving spouse receives one-half of the estate and the children receive the other one-half divided equally amongst the children and the descendants of a deceased child.
• If there is no spouse, then the entire estate goes to the children of the decedent or the descendants of a deceased child. An unborn child conceived prior the decedent’s death is considered the decedent’s heir after the child is born.
When there are no children or a surviving spouse, then the decedent’s other close family members and descendants inherit as follows:
• If there are no surviving children or descendants of a deceased child, then the estate goes equally to the decedent’s parents or to the surviving parent.
• If there are no surviving parents, then the estate is divided equally amongst the decedent’s siblings (brothers and sisters) and the descendants of deceased brothers and sisters of the decedent.
If there are no surviving brothers or sisters or heirs of the brothers and sisters, then the estate is divided equally amongst the decedent’s paternal and maternal kindred in the following order:
• To the grandfather and grandmother equally, or the survivor of them.
• If there are no grandparents, then to the aunts and aunts and descendants of the deceased aunts and uncles of the decedent .
If there are no kindred, then the whole estate shall go to the kindred of the last deceased spouse of decedent “as if the deceased spouse had survived the decedent and then died intestate and entitled to the estate.”
The right of any such descendants is subject to court approval. The court must consider reasonable proof submitted by the descendants when establishing their lineage to the decedent and cannot duly restrict the person’s right to prove his or her lineage. Such evidence could be birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, a family tree, letters or other documents, witness testimony and family photographs.
Escheated Estate Property
If there are no heirs, then the property is considered escheated property and goes to the State of Florida. Property that escheats shall be sold in accordance with the Florida Probate Rules, and the proceeds paid to the Chief Financial Officer of the State of Florida and deposited in the State School Fund. Any time within 10 years after the property has been sold and payment has been made to the State Chief Financial Officer, a rightful heir may file a proceeding to reopen the administration of the estate and assert their rights to entitlement of the estate money. If no claims are made within the statutory time period, then the State’s rights to the money becomes absolute.
Miami Probate and Estate Attorney Assistance
If you are involved in an intestate proceeding of a Miami decedent, a Miami probate and estate attorney can assist you with handling the intestate matter including representing your interests in obtaining your rightful inheritance.
If you wish to speak to a Miami estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.