Losing a spouse is undoubtedly one of the most challenging experiences. As you navigate through your grief and begin to pick up the pieces, it’s important to understand your rights as a surviving spouse in Florida. Knowing what protections are in place can provide much-needed peace of mind during this difficult time.
This blog post will explore the various spousal rights and inheritance laws that apply after death in the Sunshine State. We’ve got you covered whether you’re facing probate proceedings, intestate succession, or seeking protection for future contingencies. So, let’s dive into the intricacies of spousal rights after death in Florida and ensure you have all the information necessary to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Surviving Spouse Rights During Probate in Florida
When a loved one passes away, the surviving spouse may have certain rights and entitlements during the probate process in Florida. These rights protect the surviving spouse’s interests and ensure they receive their fair share of the deceased spouse’s estate.
During probate, the surviving spouse can claim a portion of their deceased partner’s estate. This is known as an elective share or spousal elective share. The amount that can be claimed varies depending on factors such as how long the couple was married and whether there are children from previous relationships.
Automatic Inheritance for Spouses in Florida?
When it comes to inheritance laws in Florida, many people wonder if surviving spouses automatically receive an inheritance. While the answer is not as straightforward as a simple “yes” or “no,” there are some important factors to consider.
In Florida, a spouse has no automatic right to inherit everything upon the death of their partner. The distribution of assets depends on whether or not the deceased had a valid will in place. Those instructions must be followed if a will specifically state how the assets should be divided.
If there was no will, then Florida’s intestate succession laws would come into play. These laws dictate how assets are distributed among family members when someone dies without a valid will. In this case, the surviving spouse may receive part of the estate, but it ultimately depends on other factors, such as whether the couple had children together.
Intestate Succession: What Happens Without a Will?
When someone passes away without a will in Florida, their estate is subject to intestate succession. In other words, the state determines how the deceased person’s assets will be distributed among their heirs. This process can be complex and may not align with the deceased person’s wishes.
First, it’s important to note that only certain family members are considered heirs under intestate succession laws. Typically, this includes spouses, children, parents, and siblings. The distribution of assets depends on who survives the deceased person and in what order.
Without a will specifying your intentions, you cannot control who receives your assets after death. This can lead to disputes among family members and potentially estranged relatives inheriting portions of your estate that you would rather go elsewhere. It highlights the importance of creating a comprehensive estate plan to protect your loved ones’ interests when you’re gone.
Tenant-In-Common Election for Surviving Spouses
When a spouse passes away in Florida, the surviving spouse often faces important decisions regarding their rights to the deceased spouse’s property. One option available to surviving spouses is the tenant-in-common election. This allows them to retain ownership of a portion of any real estate the couple holds as tenants in common.
With this election, the surviving spouse becomes a tenant in common with other property owners, such as children or relatives. They then have an undivided interest and can pass it on through their own will or trust upon death.
By making a tenant-in-common election, surviving spouses have more control over how their share of the property is distributed after they pass away. Individuals should seek guidance from an experienced attorney specializing in probate law to ensure that this process is carried out correctly and legally.
Understanding Pretermitted Spouse Rights
When it comes to estate planning, the rights of a surviving spouse are crucial. But what happens if a spouse is unintentionally left out of their partner’s will? In Florida, this is known as pretermission, and there are specific laws in place to protect the rights of these overlooked spouses.
In such cases, a pretermitted spouse has the legal right to claim an intestate share of their deceased partner’s estate. This means that even if you were not explicitly mentioned in your spouse’s will or trust, you may still be entitled to receive a portion of their assets.
However, it’s important to note that pretermitted spouse rights only apply if the deceased had not provided for their surviving spouse in any way. If provisions were made for you outside of the will or trust, such as through life insurance policies or joint accounts, those assets would not be subject to pretermission laws.
Other Protections for Surviving Spouses
In addition to the rights discussed earlier, other protections are in place for surviving spouses in Florida. One of these is the right to a family allowance. This means that during the probate process, a surviving spouse may be entitled to receive a certain amount of money or property from the deceased’s estate to support themselves and any dependent children.
Furthermore, if you were married to someone who passed away but did not leave behind a will, Florida law protects what is known as an elective share. This means you can claim a portion of your spouse’s estate, even if they specifically excluded you from their will.
Florida also recognizes spousal homestead rights. This means that if your deceased spouse owned their primary residence and it was titled solely in their name at the time of death, you still have certain legal rights regarding its use and possession.
These additional protections ensure surviving spouses are provided for after their partner’s death. It is important to consult an experienced attorney who can help you navigate these complex laws and protect your interests during this difficult time.
How to Protect and Retain Spousal Rights
Marriage is not just a union of two souls; it also comes with certain legal rights and protections. When a spouse passes away, the surviving spouse needs to understand how to protect and retain their spousal rights in Florida.
It is crucial to have a comprehensive estate plan in place. This includes drafting a valid will that clearly outlines the distribution of assets and specifies the surviving spouse’s entitlements. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help ensure your wishes are legally binding and safeguarded.
Staying informed about probate proceedings is vital. Understanding the process will allow you to navigate any potential challenges or disputes effectively. It may be beneficial to seek legal advice to ensure you fully know your rights as a surviving spouse.
Consider establishing joint ownership or beneficiary designations on important assets such as bank accounts, real estate properties, and life insurance policies. Doing so can help secure these assets for yourself after your partner’s passing.
Hire the Best Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Boca Raton
If you’re a surviving spouse in Boca Raton, Florida, and need assistance navigating your rights after the death of your partner, contact Frankl Kominsky. Our experienced wrongful death lawyers serving Boca Raton will help you understand your rights and options under Florida law and take action to protect them.
Call us today at (561) 800-8000 or fill out this contact form to schedule a free consultation. We understand the pain and confusion of dealing with the aftermath of wrongful death, and we are committed to helping surviving families get the justice they deserve. Our compassionate team of legal professionals will provide you with the personalized attention you need throughout your case.