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What are the inheritance rights of a surviving spouse in Florida?

When a person dies, his or her spouse has certain rights to the deceased person's assets. These rights are governed by the inheritance law of the state and might override the contents of a will. In Florida, a surviving spouse who was disinherited might be entitled to a share of the property of the deceased spouse.

Ownership of property in Florida is determined by whose name is on the property title or by whose income was used to purchase an asset. The state has statutory amounts to which a surviving spouse has a claim unless that person has agreed in writing not to challenge a will that leaves him or her less than the statutory amount. A prenuptial agreement may also override the specifications of a will.

Another fact that might determine a surviving spouse's right to a share of the estate is whether the deceased person established the will before or after the couple got married. If a Florida resident made a will after the marriage and disinherited, omitted or left the surviving spouse less than the elective share under state law, the spouse may be entitled to 30 percent of the elective estate of the deceased spouse. Furthermore, the surviving spouse might also have the right to maintain residence on the property that served as the marital home.

This is a complicated field of the law, and other factors that may come into play include decedents of the deceased person and whether they were also decedents of the surviving spouse or from another relationship. Also, if the will was drafted before the marriage, the surviving spouse may be entitled to a bigger share of the estate. A Florida spouse who is questioning his or her right to an inheritance might find the answers by consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Inheritance Law and Your Rights", Accessed on May 5. 2017

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