Understanding Inheritance

There’s a lot to do when a loved one passes. On top of handling your own grief, you may have to make final arrangements, communicate with family members or friends, and handle legal affairs. The decedent’s estate is a high priority—prompt handling of the estate ensures that beneficiaries receive their intended inheritance.

Several Ways to Inherit in Florida

Depending on your loved one’s final arrangements, there are several ways that you may secure an inheritance in Florida. If the decedent left a final Will that outlines who should receive which assets, those assets will be distributed appropriately after the court verifies the validity of the Will. If your loved one set up a living trust, the process may be slightly faster. The successor trustee can distribute assets to the named beneficiaries after paying any final debts and handling any remaining estate issues.

In cases where the decedent does not leave a Will or have a living trust, assets are distributed per the laws of intestate succession. If someone dies and has a surviving spouse and no children that aren’t also the spouse’s children, the entire estate passes to the spouse. If someone has children from outside the marriage, half of the estate goes to their children and half goes to the spouse. The entire estate passes to the spouse if the decedent did not have any children.

In cases where the decedent does not have a spouse or children, the estate passes to their surviving parents. Intestate succession dictates that the estate goes to the siblings if there are no surviving parents, to nieces and nephews if there are no siblings, and to grandparents if there are no nieces and nephews.

No State or Inheritance Tax in Florida

Florida is one state that does not impose estate or inheritance taxes, which can significantly increase the amount that beneficiaries receive. Assets received from inheritance are not considered regular income, so they do not impact your taxable income.

Probate Could Keep You Waiting

If you’re set to inherit assets through a Will or living trust, patience is key. When a decedent leaves behind a final Will, the Will must go through probate court. The court verifies the authenticity of the Will, appoints an executor, and permits the valuation and distribution of assets. This process can take months or even years, depending on how many assets there are, whether or not beneficiaries contest the Will, and which debts must be paid by the estate.

The process is often significantly faster when the decedent leaves a living trust. Living trusts are typically exempt from probate, permitting the executor to distribute assets in a prompt and efficient manner.

Inheritance law is complicated, and it can be difficult to know your rights without the help of a probate attorney. Whether you need help contesting an executor’s actions or navigating the probate process, contact The Probate Law Firm at 305-456-3255 to discuss your options.

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