When a Miami resident dies without a valid will, their spouse, children or other heirs will have to file an intestate proceeding with the Miami-Dade Probate Court in order to get assets that are held solely in the decedent’s name. A Miami probate and estate attorney can explain the Florida intestate probate procedure and assist the family with the intestate filing and other probate matters such as finding assets and selling personal and real property. A Miami intestate proceeding can take approximately 6 to 8 months or longer, depending on the size of the estate.

Florida Intestate Succession

The Florida intestate succession laws determine who is  entitled to inherit a decedent’s estate when they die without a will. Here is a basic outline:

•    When there are no children, then the surviving spouse is entitled to receive the entire estate.
•    If there are children and a surviving spouse, then the surviving spouse gets one-half of the estate and the other one-half goes to the children, divided equally amongst them or to the grandchildren of a deceased child of the decedent.
•    When a decedent has no spouse or no surviving children, the estate goes to parents, or if the parents are deceased, to siblings of the decedent and then aunts, uncles and cousins.

There are some exceptions to the provisions for homestead property that is held in the decedent’s sole name. The surviving spouse receives a life estate in the homestead property, and the decedent’s children receive title to the property after the surviving spouse’s death. If there are no children, the serving spouse is entitled to the full ownership of the homestead property.

Some intestate matters are complicated. Most families hire a Miami probate and estate attorney to help them file an intestate proceeding. An attorney understands the intestate process and is familiar with the Miami-Dade Probate Court procedures and rules.

The person who is appointed by the court to take care of an estate is called a personal representative. Usually, the court appoints the decedent’s spouse as the personal representative. If the spouse is not a available, a child. The family usually agrees who will take care of an estate, but if a disagreement arises, then the matter will have to be decided by a Miami court.

An attorney can assist the personal representative with the administration of the estate and distribution of the assets as well as review and approval of any claims made by creditors or other interested parties.

Avoiding an Intestate Proceeding in the First Place

The way to avoid an intestate proceeding is to have an estate attorney make at least a simple Florida will. Having a will and/or trust assures that you are in control of the disposition of your assets. Your family will also avoid the unnecessary costs and time of having to establish an intestate estate.  Estate planning can also help you reduce your estate taxes.  And you can avoid probate by holding real estate and bank accounts in joint names, gifting your property while you are alive or placing your assets in a trust, all of which should be discussed with an attorney.

As a Miami probate and estate attorney, I can represent the testator in connection with the preparation of the will and trust, the estate after the decedent’s death or a beneficiary or interested party who wishes to make a claim against an estate. If you wish to speak to a Miami estate attorney, call me at (786) 522-1411.