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What inheritance rights do a decedent's family have?

Although no one really wants to think about it, sometimes people pass away without bequeathing their remaining assets to close family members. Any number of reasons can cause a person not to properly account for all loved ones left behind; however, those left behind need not be left out. Surviving family members are protected under Florida law and may receive certain assets from the deceased even though they were not specifically named as inheritors.

According to The Florida Bar, the surviving family members of a decedent have certain rights and protection under Florida law. Even if you are not named in a will or other estate planning document, you may still be entitled to certain assets. Furthermore, if the decedent remarried and had more children but failed to name them in a will for whatever reason, those relatives may be able to claim a portion of the probate estate.

Surviving spouses seem to have the most protection when it comes to claiming parts of their deceased spouse's estate. One such entitlement is called an elective share, and in Florida, could mean as much as 30 percent of all assets. Also, the surviving spouse and the couple's children may also have rights to allowances before the final distribution of the decedent's estate. In addition, some of the decedent's property may be exempt from being liquidated for creditors, thereby being able to be passed on to heirs.

With so many variables involved regarding estate distribution, navigating the process can be daunting for the uninitiated. An attorney experienced in estate law and planning will have the knowledge and resources to assist anyone with questions or in need of guidance with regard to claiming his or her fair share of a loved one's estate.

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