Florida Rules on Intestate Succession in Uncommon Scenarios

In our most recent piece, we provided an overview of the rules in Florida governing “intestate succession,” which basically refers to how property is distributed when a person passes away without a will. Because there is no will in place, Florida has its own “default” rules which determine how a person’s assets will be passed down. As we mentioned in the previous piece, Florida has rules which govern nearly every scenario imaginable, even those scenarios which are not likely to show up very often. Florida needs to have these rules for uncommon scenarios, because otherwise unpleasant disputes could arise.

In this post, we’re going to go over a few of the less common scenarios which can arise in intestate succession.

Children’s Shares

If a person has biological children, everyone understands intuitively that these children would have a natural right of inheritance. So, if a person dies intestate, there is no ambiguity or uncertainty regarding the right of biological children to inherit. But what about other scenarios involving children who are not direct descendants?

In the case of adopted children, children who have been legally adopted have an equal right to inheritance as biological children. So, if a person passes away intestate and has both biological children and adopted children, the adopted children will receive the same share as the biological children. When it comes to foster children and stepchildren, the following rule applies: if these children were never legally adopted, then they won’t have a right to a share in an intestate succession context. In other words, foster children and stepchildren must be adopted in order to acquire a right to a share.

In Florida law, the term “posthumous children” refers to children conceived prior to death but born after death. Posthumous children have the same right to a share as biological children who were conceived and born while the parent was alive. In the case of grandchildren, a grandchild doesn’t normally have a right to a share, but acquires a right if the deceased person’s son or daughter (i.e. the parent of the grandchild) is no longer living. Children born out-of-wedlock likewise only acquire a right to a share under certain circumstances. In order for these biological children to receive a share, the parent needs to formally acknowledge paternity, or paternity must be established by the court. Or, if the child was born within a marriage which itself turned out to invalid, then the child will acquire a right to a share.

Other Scenarios

Siblings also have a right to a share when a deceased person has no surviving spouse and no surviving descendants. If there are multiple siblings in this type of scenario, then the siblings will each acquire an equal share. In Florida law, a half-sibling is treated the same as a full sibling when it comes to intestate succession. So, if a person dies intestate with no surviving spouse and no surviving children, and has one full sibling and two half-siblings, each of these siblings will receive one-third share of the estate.

The rule on posthumous children also applies to posthumous siblings. So, if a person dies intestate after a sibling has been conceived, but before the sibling is born, then that sibling will have the same rights as a sibling conceived and born while the person was alive.

Contact the Denise Jomarron Legal Group

In a way, this is like a giant puzzle. This type of puzzle solving is something that attorneys do on a regular basis. If you’d like to learn more, or if you have a case involving intestate succession, give the Denise Jomarron Legal Group a call today at (305) 402-4494.

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