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What happens if you don’t have a will

  • By:Neil Lyons

“I heard that if I don’t have a will, the state will inherit my estate.”

I’ve heard that refrain in estate planning consultations several times over the past few months. To be honest, I am not sure why it’s taking hold. Let’s clear up the matter.

Estate unlikely to go to state

If you’re a Florida resident at the time of your death and you die without a will, your estate will “escheat” to the state of Florida in a very limited scenario.

Essentially, if you die without a will and are not survived by any children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., your estate will escheat. (That’s not the entirety of the “survived by” list, but you get the point.)

The downside of not having a will is that the state of Florida will write a will for you. That means the state — not you — will dictate which family members will receive a share of your estate regardless of your wishes.

In addition, lack of a will means that you cannot select a personal representative to control the administration of your estate.  

If you’re uncomfortable with the state writing your will for you, give us a call. Take advantage of our complimentary consultation so you’re informed about your estate planning options.     

Attorney Neil T. Lyons pursued a career in law for the sole purpose of helping people. His practice is focused on the area of elder law, including estate planning, trust and probate administration and guardianship. His early legal experience solidified his commitment to assisting, whenever possible, two very vulnerable groups: children and the elderly. He has been recognized repeatedly by various organizations for his pro bono efforts in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Neil also consistently engages in service to the legal community and joined the Luhrsen Goldberg staff in 2019. 

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