Grandchildren inherit in probate unless otherwise stated

A common myth in Florida:  in order to inherit from a parent, a child must survive the parent.  In Florida that is not true.  A pre-deceased child does inherit when the parent dies, but does so through their own children (in other words, through the grandchildren of the person who just died). 

Let’s say John, age 35, dies before his mother Ruth, and John leaves behind three children.  Those three children “stand in the shoes” of John when Ruth dies, if Ruth dies without a Will or if Ruth’s Will is silent on the situation.  Only if Ruth’s Will specifically states that her estate goes to “such of my children who survive me” (or similar words) will John’s three children lose out and inherit nothing.

John’s wife (let’s call her Sue) is not an heir of Ruth, unless she is given something by name in Ruth’s Will.  It’s only John’s children who split John’s share of Ruth’s estate. 

This is true even if Sue remarries and moves to another country, and those children never see their grandmother Ruth again.  However, if John’s children are adopted by Sue’s new husband, their inheritance rights as John’s children are cut off, and they may have new inheritance rights under their new father.  Adoption is a very serious step with serious legal consequences.