A common word you might hear around discussion of wills and passings is "intestate." The word can be used as an adjective to describe a situation where a person dies without a valid will in place ("She died intestate") or it might be used to describe the deceased person specifically.
Closely related is the word "intestacy" which generally describes the process of what happens to property belonging to a deceased person that does not pass through a will or other testamentary device. Intestacy can cause great headaches for those that a person leaves behind, including courtroom delays, legal costs, and property going to parties that the deceased did not intend to benefit.
WHAT INTESTACY MEANS FOR YOUR SURVIVORS
If you die with some or all of your property being intestate, that property will most likely need to go through a probate court. That will entail an administrator being appointed by the court (your survivors may in fact end up arguing before the probate court through filings and hearings over who should be appointed administrator), and then that administrator will have to distribute your property in accordance with the state law intestacy statutes that govern your estate.
This means that, no matter what you might have said outside of a will in your lifetime regarding where your property should go, a state court judge will make this decision based on state law, and an administrator will carry out the court's rulings in distributing the estate. This can mean long delay, court and attorney fees eating up the estate, and even arguments and legal battles among friends and family.
INTESTACY CAN OCCUR EVEN WITH A WILL
Note that, even where a will is in place, that may not avoid the problem of intestacy. If your will is declared not to be valid, or if there are competing wills or questions about the content of the will, or if state law trumps some of your will's provisions (e.g. failure to provide for a spouse or child born after the will was created), or if your will fails to clearly and comprehensively cover all of your property in your estate, at least some portion of your estate may still go to probate and intestacy rules could be applied.
HOW TO AVOID INTESTACY
To avoid any or all of your estate going into intestacy, work with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure that your will is valid, up-to-date, clear, and comprehensive with regard to your estate.
CONTACT RYAN MYNARD TODAY ABOUT CREATING YOUR FLORIDA WILL OR CODICIL
To being the process of creating or updating a Florida will or codicil - or to speak about any estate planning questions or concerns you have - contact Florida estate planning attorney Ryan Mynard at 850-683-3940 today to get started.