The answer is, possibly. One of the most persistent estate planning “myths” around is the belief that if someone dies without a will, the State of Florida is entitled to their possessions. While it is possible that Florida could collect a windfall upon a person’s passing, it is by no means a certainty.
When a Florida resident dies without a will, they are considered legally “intestate.” Given the relative frequency of this occurrence, it is not surprising that the Florida Statutes have a procedure in place for controlling the disposition of the decedent’s property.
If there is a surviving spouse, Florida Statute § 732.102 determines their share as follows:
Once the surviving spouse’s interest has been satisfied, or if there is no surviving spouse, Florida Statute § 732.103 determines that the intestate estate is distributed as follows:
Then one-half to the decedent’s paternal, and the other half to the decedent’s maternal, kindred in the following order:
If the decedent dies without being survived by any of the persons listed above, then their estate will go to the State of Florida (“escheat”). If, at any time within 10 years after distribution to the state, a person comes forward with a claim of entitlement to the proceeds, the estate may be reopened. If no claim is asserted within the ten year period, then the state’s right to the proceeds becomes absolute.
Thus, the answer to the question, is possibly. A better answer, however, is to contact a Florida estate planning attorney and have a will drawn up. This should eliminate all ambiguity and ensure that the Florida Statutes do not have the final say.