Without an estate plan, your death could classify as “intestate.” A probate court judge may then appoint a personal representative to distribute your assets. The Florida Bar’s website notes that individuals, banks and financial trust companies may serve as an estate’s administrator.
In some intestate cases, a surviving spouse, parent or adult child accepts the appointment. If you die without surviving family members, the court may allow a Florida trust company to serve as your estate’s administrator. A judge may also appoint a representative if your spouse or child declines to accept the required duties.
A personal representative’s responsibilities
Before transferring property to your heirs, a personal representative identifies and values your assets. By leaving a will, you could list all your properties and help the court make a smooth transfer. Without a will, however, it could take time to inventory and value the contents of your estate.
The personal representative must contact your creditors and work with them if they file a claim. Creditors may attempt to retrieve unpaid balances on your loans or credit cards from your estate’s assets. The personal representative also files your estate’s tax return and pays any taxes owed.
Distribution of assets without a valid will
After completing the required tasks, a court-appointed representative may distribute your assets to your rightful heirs. Under Florida’s intestate distribution laws, your surviving spouse may receive all the assets left in your estate.
If you die without a spouse but have two or more children, they may divide your estate. The assigned representative may hire professionals to value your estate before dividing assets between your children.
With a will, you may choose the personal representative you would prefer to manage your estate’s affairs. You may also list your assets and specify the individuals you would like the probate court to transfer them to.