Intestate and Blended Families

blended-familiesWhen you have a blended family, it is always best to make sure your estate planning is laid out in legal documents that explain exactly who gets what, before your assets are distributed via intestate succession laws. A blended family is one which may include children from prior marriages or relationship.

In Florida, intestate succession laws will dispense your estate to your relatives when there is an absence of a legal will, or when a will is found to be invalid. Sometimes the dispensing is simple, such as when a decedent only leaves behind a surviving spouse. However, things get considerably more complicated with blended families. A decedent is the person who has died.

All assets in the estate are left to a surviving spouse, when the decedent has no lineal descendants. Within intestate succession laws, if a decedent leaves behind a surviving spouse, and children or other lineal descendants who are shared with the spouse, then the surviving spouse still inherits the estate. However, in blended families where the decedent leaves behind a surviving spouse and lineal descendants who are not shared with the spouse, then half the estate goes to the surviving spouse and the remaining half of the estate is split among the lineal descendants.

When blended families contains adopted children, under intestate succession law in Florida, legally adopted children will receive the same share of your estate as biological children. However, any foster children or stepchildren will not automatically receive a share of the estate. Nor will children who were put up for adoption, and have been legally adopted, receive any share of the estate.

A child who has been conceived by the decedent, but not yet born at the time of death, will still receive a share of the estate under intestate succession law in Florida. Blended families that include children born outside of marriage, will see those children receive a share of the estate under a few legal conditions, such as the decedent having acknowledged the paternity or a court establishing such paternity.

When you have a blended family, or a complicated family situation, it is always wise to make sure you have a will in place formally laying out your wishes upon your death. Otherwise, all assets that can normally be distributed via a will, will then subject to intestate succession law.