When a spouse passes away, the surviving spouse has many decisions to make. It’s important to know a surviving spouse’s rights as those decisions are made. Fortunately, Florida statutes contain provisions stating certain surviving spouse rights.
The first thing to learn is whether the deceased person (the decedent) executed a valid Will. If so, probate assets will pass in compliance with the terms of the Will, subject to statutory spousal rights.
If the decedent did not leave a Will, the estate assets will pass in the following manner:
This is also true if all the decedent’s descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse. For example, if Bob and Mary have three children, the surviving spouse would inherit the entire estate when the other dies because all the descendants are from both Bob and Mary.
Also, if the decedent and surviving spouse both had lineal descendants that are not descendants of the other, the surviving spouse gets one-half of the estate. In the scenario we’ve been following, if Bob and Mary had two children together and Mary had a child from a previous marriage, Mary receives half of the state.
Occasionally, an individual will execute a valid Will as a single person, but then fail to update the Will to include his or her spouse. Florida intestacy laws state that the surviving spouse will receive a share of the estate equal to what he or she would have received if the decedent had died intestate unless:
In addition to benefits related to whether the decedent died testate or intestate, state law provides the following rights to surviving spouses:
Discuss your rights to make sure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled. As a Florida attorney board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates, Attorney John Mangan offers comprehensive and effective estate planning to his clients. To schedule an appointment, call us at 772-324-9050 or fill out our Contact Form. Our office is conveniently located in Palm City, Florida.