How is Property Transferred if You Die Without a Will in Florida?

transfer of property after death

If you are reading this, chances are you own some things — a house, some money in the bank, or investments. If you don’t have a will in place, you may be wondering what would happen to all of your stuff if you were to suddenly pass.

People are often surprised to find out it can mean that family members who want to receive your things do not, and family members who do not want to receive your things do.

That’s why Vollrath Law always advises our clients to spend the time and money to get those essential estate planning documents, such as a will, in place now instead of taking the risk that your estate passes in a way that you would not want. If you don’t have them yet, let us walk you through what could happen.

Your Estate Might Go Through Probate

Whether you die with or without a will, any assets that you own that are not jointly held or do not have beneficiaries will have to go through probate to descend to your heirs.

Probate is a legal term for the court-supervised process of tallying up your assets, paying your debts and final expenses and taxes, and determining who the rightful new owners are for what’s left and how to transfer the property to them.

This process can take time – frequently months or even years in Florida. The process can also be expensive and may require attorney fees and court fees. It’s awful knowing that too many families go through this when it can oftentimes be avoided with some simple estate planning.

Who Inherits Your Property When There’s No Will?

Here’s where things may get complicated – without a last will and testament, Florida law determines who inherits your property after death based on your family situation and what type of possession is at issue. Often, this step is not as straightforward as people may assume.

There are special provisions dealing with married couples and rights granted to surviving spouses. Let’s start there.

Your Spouse Won’t Get Everything Automatically

Many people assume their wife or husband will inherit everything if they pass first. But it doesn’t always work that way. Your spouse may have to split your estate with other family members who are considered your legal heirs under state law.

However, unmarried partners will receive nothing in the probate, no matter how long you’ve been together.

Without the legal direction of a will, unmarried partners or non-blood relatives have little to no standing during probate. Friends, partners, or favorite charities that you want to be remembered will often get zero protection.

Other Relatives Are Next In Line

Florida state law provides a pecking order of relatives to whom your property will be transferred, if not transferring to a spouse. Children and grandchildren come first. If none exist, then your parents. Next would be siblings, nieces and nephews, etc. Distant cousins could even come into play.

That order can get very intricate very quickly when you consider all the possible scenarios. Half-blood vs whole-blood relatives, descendants of already deceased siblings, estranged family members – it goes on and on. Things can get ugly as all these players come out of the woodwork vying for a share of your property.

Out-of-State Property Complicates Things Further

If you own real estate, vehicles, or other assets that are titled out of state, the process can get even more complicated. Each individual property would need to go through ancillary probate in the state where the property is located.

That means someone has to file for probate in that state, work with courts across state lines, and find knowledgeable representation to help with any unique laws or tax codes that may apply.

Couple that with potential fights over which state controls the estate, where filings should occur, whose tax rates apply, and other sticky cross-border issues. It’s an intricate mess without proper planning to set expectations ahead of time.

Vollrath Law Can Help Transfer Property Ownership

If you pass away without a will, retitling your real estate can be difficult. Transferring the property deed from your name to theirs takes legal know-how.

At Vollrath Law, we can handle the entire retitling process for you.


  • Determine who inherits the property according to the law
  • File the appropriate paperwork in probate court
  • Create and record deeds
  • Help with selling

We make real estate ownership transfers smooth and simple for grieving families. Let our team manage the transfer of your home, land, or other properties.

Contact Our Attorneys Today for Peace of Mind Tomorrow

At Vollrath Law, we never want your family to endure that kind of traumatic and costly court process if you pass without key estate documents in place. As Florida attorneys with experience successfully helping families transfer property seamlessly between generations, we know firsthand the chaos caused by inadequate preparations.

That’s why our estate planning attorneys invite you to schedule a consultation with our compassionate legal team. We’ll explore options customized for your unique assets and wishes so you can rest assured everything goes smoothly when the time comes.

Our personalized guidance provides Florida families with certainty, stability, and, most importantly – peace of mind. We are dedicated to truly listening and delivering legal results with understanding and care.

Contact us under the blue awning today to secure your legacy with proper planning. We look forward to helping you take control and direct what happens to protect both your hard-earned property and your loved ones.

Author Bio

Stephanie Vollrath is an Owner and Partner of Vollrath Law, a Florida estate planning law firm she founded in 2013. With more than seven years of experience in investments and financial advising and 13 years practicing law in Florida, she represented clients in a wide range of estate planning cases. Her practice areas include wills, trusts, guardianship, probate, and other estate planning matters.

Stephanie received her Juris Doctor from the Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Seminole County Bar Association.

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