Under Florida Statute 732.201 the surviving spouse of an individual who dies and is also domiciled in Florida, has a right to a share of the elective estate of the decedent. This right gives the surviving spouse up to 30% of the decedent’s elective estate, even if they were expressly disinherited in a will or trust. Thus, even if a will specifically disinherits a spouse, Florida Law will override the terms of the will and apply the spouse’s right to an elective share. For this right to apply, the decedent must have been married and must have been domiciled somewhere within Florida, whether it was Palm Beach, Broward or Dade county, at the time of death.
A surviving spouse does not have to be completely disinherited to opt for the elective share. The elective share can be elected whenever a surviving spouse stands to receive less than 30% of decedent’s elective estate. The only exceptions to this rule come from valid pre nuptial agreements, post nuptial agreements and effective waivers by spouses of their elective share rights.
The 30% is calculated from the “elective estate” of the decedent’s assets. The elective estate tends to include a larger scope of assets than those included in decedent’s probate estate. Florida Statute 732.2035 lists those probate and non-probate assets which are included in the elective estate. Those assets include, but are not limited to, property owned by the decedent, revocable trust assets, funds from payable on death accounts, and any property given away within one year of decedent’s death.
The elective share calculation can be complicated but an experienced probate litigation lawyer can help you evaluate your rights under Florida’s elective share laws. Additionally, acting fast is crucial because a surviving spouse has only 6 months from the time they receive notice of the estate’s administration to make the Florida elective share election. If you or someone you know lives in the West Palm, Fort Lauderdale or Miami-Dade area and was improperly disinherited from a will or not given their rightful share, the probate litigation team at Chepenik Trushin will help you obtain the proper legal relief. Please feel free to contact us for an initial first consultation.