What Are the Inheritance Laws in Florida?


Quick Answer

According to the Law Offices of Adrian Philip Thomas, the spouse is usually the first beneficiary, but the descendants of the deceased qualify if the spouse is deceased. To avoid legal confusion, it is important to name each beneficiary in a will instead of using generalities such as "my children."

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Full Answer

The Law Offices of Adrian Philip Thomas further notes that the decedent's mother and father become beneficiaries if there are no descendants. If there is no mother and father to speak of, the siblings of the deceased qualify for inheritance. If the brother or sister are deceased, then the estate is divided along paternal and maternal lines to the closest living relatives, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles. If none of the aforementioned are alive, other surviving family members become beneficiaries.

Children born out of wed-lock are not eligible for inheritance unless the father specifically claimed that child legally. Certain exceptions are made, such as exhuming the body for DNA testing to prove the child is legally entitled to property and possessions. If the father is alive, then a DNA test is satisfactory. Without a DNA test from the father, it is difficult for children born of out of wed-lock to claim inheritance rights. Step-children are not eligible to inherit possessions in Florida, unless specifically stated in a will or if they are adopted.

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