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What Rights Does a Spouse Have in a Florida Estate?

Under Florida probate law, a surviving spouse has certain statutory rights to a Florida decedent’s estate:

  • Right to homestead property (or life estate in a decedent’s homestead residence)
  • A 30% elective share of the decedent’s estate
  • Up to 100% of the decedent’s estate under Florida intestate law (when the decedent died without a will)
  • A family allowance right
  • Right to exempt property
  • Right to select a personal representative of a Florida decedent’s estate

A surviving spouse also has automatic immunity from the presumption of undue influence under Florida probate law. However, under 732.805.F.S., if there is evidence found that the surviving spouse procured the marriage by fraud, duress or undue influence, then the spouse is not entitled to inherit under the above rights.  If on the other hand, if the surviving spouse is provided for by name as a beneficiary on a document such as a bond, life insurance policy, will, trust or other contractual agreement, then the surviving spouse would be able to receive the inheritance.

How Much Time Do I Have to Contest or Challenging a Surviving Spouse’s Interest in Florida?

Any heir, beneficiary or other interested party may challenge the surviving spouse’s claim to inherit the decedent’s property by filing a litigation action with the Florida Probate Court. Sometimes, but not always, a challenge may be made up to four years after the decedent’s death unless the claim is otherwise barred under Florida probate laws and rules.

Does a Former Spouse Inherit Under a Florida Will?

Under Florida Statutes 732.507(2) and 736.1105, respectively, a provision of a will or trust executed by the decedent that affects a former spouse becomes void upon the divorce or annulment of the marriage. These statutes were enacted for protection of a Florida decedent’s estate when the decedent either forgets or fails to amend or modify a will or trust, unless there is sufficient proof to establish the decedent’s intent was to still otherwise provide for such ex-spouse.

Hiring a Florida Probate and Estate Attorney

Since spousal claims and estate challenges are complicated matters, they usually require an attorney’s experience and expertise. If you wish to speak to a Florida estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin today.