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My Mom (or Dad) Remarried. Will Their New Spouse Inherit Everything?

Law Offices of David W. Wilcox July 20, 2022

Inheritance rights differ from state to state and there are a number of factors that can influence them. Many people will inherit assets from their parents after they pass—but when changes happen later in life, they can be left feeling unsure of their future. One of the major concerns adult-age children have is what will happen to their inheritance if their parent remarries. The answer is complex and will be highly dependent on the specifics of your situation.

If you’d like to speak with an attorney about this or any other concern about estate planning, call the Law Offices of David W. Wilcox. From his office in Bradenton, Florida, Attorney Wilcox is able to help clients throughout the area, including Matinee County and Sarasota County.

Dying Without a Will

The main factor that will decide where assets go is whether your parent has established a will or trust outlining their wishes and whether they’ve revised these documents since their remarriage. The simplest way to find out what your inheritance will be is to ask directly, but this can be a sensitive topic for many families, especially if there’s a new spouse in the picture. Because of this, it’s helpful to know about how Florida state succession laws generally work.

When someone passes away and has not left a will, most of their wealth will then have to go through probate. Probate is the legal process where assets are transferred to the deceased’s heirs by way of a judge. This process can take a long time and can be quite costly. A judge will assign an administrator of the estate (typically a surviving spouse or adult child) who’s responsible for locating, inventorying, assessing, and distributing assets, as well as addressing any debts or unpaid taxes.

If your parent does not have a will in place (known as dying intestate), their assets will be passed along according to the intestate succession law. This law aims to streamline the process of probate and minimize infighting between family members.

Florida Intestate Succession Law

This law only applies to assets that would normally go through probate, and any assets that have already been transferred to someone else or that have a named beneficiary will not be subject to this rule. Examples of this would be if your parent has moved certain assets into a living trust, has named beneficiaries on investment or retirement accounts, or holds property jointly with another person. In these cases, the assets will transfer directly to the named beneficiary and will not have to go through probate.

However, anything else will be subject to succession. Florida law spells out specifically how these assets are to be divided. If a parent dies unmarried, all their assets will go directly to their children. However, if they’re married, it gets more complicated. If they are married to the parent of the joint children and there are no other children by either parent, 100% of the assets will go to the surviving spouse. If your parent has remarried and does not have any children with their new spouse, assets will be split 50/50 between the surviving spouse and the children. If there are children from the remarriage, the spouse will still receive 50% of the assets, and the other 50% will be split among all the children. 

Nobody likes to think about their loved ones passing away, but the reality of state inheritance laws can drastically affect what your family members are legally able to receive. If you’re depending on an inheritance to cover critical costs, you need to look into these details with the help of an estate planning attorney sooner rather than later. 

Children’s Inheritance Rights in Florida 

The amount that each child will receive after a parent dies will depend on how many children there are in total and whether your parent has a current spouse. For example, if you are one of five children and your parent has remarried and not had any other children, the new spouse will receive 50% and each child will split the remaining 50%, thereby each receiving 10% of the estate. 

It’s also worth noting that this only applies to legal children which can include adopted children, foster or stepchildren (even if they were never legally adopted), posthumously-born children (a child that conceived but born after the father’s death), and children that were born outside of marriage (typically paternity must be established). In some cases, a grandchild may be in line to inherit a portion of the assets, but this typically only happens when the child (the grandchild’s parent) has passed away.

Hiring an Experienced Probate Attorney

The best way to ensure your future is secure and your parent’s wishes are followed is to help them write out a comprehensive estate plan. At the Law Offices of David W. Wilcox in Bradenton, Florida, you’ll get professional estate planning services from someone who truly cares about serving the members of his community in all aspects of life. Call today to set up a consultation.