One advantage of marriage in Florida is that it provides spouses with several legal benefits. One such benefit is related to probate, which is the process by which a deceased individual’s assets are legally transferred to his or her rightful heirs. When a married person dies, his or her surviving spouse is entitled to certain protections during the probate process. In this article, we discuss marriage and probate in Florida.
One marriage benefit in Florida is that homestead property, which is a married couple’s primary residence, cannot be left to someone in a last will and testament. This means that a spouse cannot transfer homestead property via a will if he or she is survived by a spouse or a minor child. This ensures that homestead property remains in the family, and it keeps the property from passing along to someone else during the probate process.
Tenancy by the Entirety
In Florida, when a married couple has acquired title to a piece of property at the same time, and they own equal shares of such property, the couple may choose to own the property as tenants by the entirety. Owning property as tenants by the entirety affords couples many benefits, including creditor protection benefits and a special estate planning benefit called a “right of survivorship.” Under Florida law, a surviving spouse with right of survivorship owns the deceased spouse’s share of the property after he or she passes.
Florida law recognizes that some marriages become strained and that there are sometimes instances where a spouse wishes to completely disinherit his or her spouse without going through the divorce process. Florida law prohibits a person from completely disinheriting his or her spouse unless the disinherited spouse has given prior approval. In Florida, a surviving spouse has the right to claim 30% of a share of his or her deceased spouse’s estate.
When a person dies without a last will and testament, his or her estate is said to be “intestate.” When an estate is intestate, its assets pass in accordance with Florida law. Generally, a surviving spouse may inherit the entirety of his or her spouse’s estate. However, this may not apply in the case of a blended family. Therefore, if you are a member of a blended family and have concerns about how your property will pass, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Contact a Florida Probate Attorney
If you require assistance with a probate matter in Florida, you need an experienced Florida probate attorney on your side. At the Law Office of Angela Siegel, attorney Angela Siegel provides comprehensive and thorough estate planning services to residents of Florida and New York. Whether you wish to avoid the probate process through estate planning, or you need help navigating the probate process, Ms. Siegel will utilize her considerable knowledge and experience to ensure that you receive the strongest legal representation possible. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.