If both spouses died within months of each other without Wills and most assets are in their names jointly, what will happen to their estate?

No Wills or other instructions have been found.

Asked on August 25, 2013 under Estate Planning, Florida


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

In such a case as this, the assets of the first spouse to die would go to the then surviving spouse and children, if any, by what is known as "intestate succession". This is the legal procedure by which an estate is distributed when someone dies without a Will. The only caveat here is that to the extent that any assets were held as "joint tenants with right of survivorship", then those assets automatically vested 100% in the surviving spouse upon their spouse's death; the assets would not have had to go into the estate.

When the second spouse died, their assets would have all gone into their estate and would be distributed according to the succession laws of the state in which they were domiciled as of the date of their death. This would be to the "heirs" (next of kin). Typically this would be first to the children, if any, then to the surviving parents, if any, then to brothers/sisters, if any, etc.)

This is just a very brief and generalized overview; certain facts could change the outcome. Since the laws of each state vary, you woud be well advised to consult with a probate attorney in the state in which the decedants lived. They can best inform you of your rights/remedies.

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