April 23, 2024
Does a Spouse Automatically Inherit Everything in Florida?

by Denis Kleinfeld

Many people in Florida married couples wonder if their spouse gets everything when they die. It’s important to know Florida’s laws on this. These laws show what a spouse can get after their partner passes away. Let’s look at what married couples in Florida need to know about inheritance.

When a person dies without a will in Florida, their property doesn’t automatically go to their spouse. This happens even if they’re married. There are specific rules, called intestate succession, that decide how property is shared. This means a spouse might get some of the assets, but not all.

There are many things to consider when figuring out what a spouse gets:

  • The type of assets and property
  • How the assets are titled
  • The will’s terms, if there is one
  • Any agreements made before or after marriage

Now, let’s look at what exactly a surviving spouse in Florida might inherit.

Key Takeaways:

  • Florida’s laws do give certain rights to surviving spouses.
  • A spouse doesn’t always get everything when their partner dies but might get an elective share.
  • They could also get other things like exempt property, a family allowance, and more.
  • Assets that pass outside of probate, like retirement accounts, can also go to the spouse.
  • Understanding these rights is best done with help from a Florida estate planning attorney.

What Property and Assets Does a Surviving Spouse Inherit in Florida?

In Florida, a surviving spouse has special rights by law. They get some property and assets from their passed spouse’s estate. This is true even if the will says something else.

Property and assets inherited by surviving spouse in Florida:

1. Elective Share: The surviving spouse can ask for a share of the deceased spouse’s estate. This elective share can be a helpful part of the estate.

2. Exempt Property: The surviving spouse can inherit certain items with sentimental value. These can be personal things and furniture up to $20,000.

3. Family Allowance: A financial allowance is available to help with family costs. This is for the surviving spouse to use while things like the will are figured out.

4. Homestead Property: The home of the deceased spouse goes to the surviving one. It lets the surviving spouse, who might not own the home, keep living there.

5. Intestate Share: If there’s no will or if it doesn’t give enough to the surviving spouse, they get a part of the estate. Florida’s rules decide how much.

6. Pretermitted Spousal Share: Even if not named in the will, the surviving spouse could still get a part of the estate. This protects them from being left out by mistake.

It’s smart for surviving spouses in Florida to know their rights. They should make sure they get what they’re supposed to. Talking to a lawyer who knows about estates can be very helpful.

Property and Assets Inherited by Surviving Spouse in Florida

Inheritance Rights Description
Elective Share A portion of the estate’s cash and investments claimed by the surviving spouse.
Exempt Property Personal possessions and furnishings worth up to $20,000 net.
Family Allowance Funds provided to support the surviving family during the probate process.
Homestead Property Primary residence of the deceased spouse, automatically inherited by the surviving spouse.
Intestate Share Inherited when there is no will or when the will does not sufficiently provide for the surviving spouse.
Pretermitted Spousal Share Share of the estate received by the surviving spouse if not included in the deceased spouse’s will.

Taking the right legal steps is important for surviving spouses in Florida. A good lawyer can guide them. This ensures the surviving spouse rightfully inherits.

Homestead Inheritance for a Surviving Spouse in Florida

In Florida, a homestead property is very special. Even if a will says different, a living spouse will get the homestead property. This happens when their spouse dies.

The term “homestead property” means the home where the spouse who died lived. Florida law protects this home. So, the living spouse can keep living there. They also get full ownership, no matter what the will says.

This rule helps keep the surviving spouse stable and secure in their home. It knows how important the home is for the surviving spouse’s feelings and comfort.

Also, this home will be safe from some debts and creditors. This protection is good for the surviving spouse.

Getting the homestead property in this way is crucial for a surviving spouse in Florida. It helps with money and heartache after losing a loved one. They keep the place they know and love. This brings comfort and security.

But, the surviving spouse still needs to make sure they legally own the home. They should do this to avoid problems later.

Finally, Florida’s law on homestead properties is about more than just a house. It shows the deep connection between spouses. The surviving spouse can feel safe and find hope in their family home. It’s like a new start for them.

Elective Estate Inheritance for a Surviving Spouse in Florida

In Florida, surviving spouses have a right that can’t be taken away. It’s called the elective share. This part of the estate goes to the spouse, no matter what the will says. It’s a move by Florida’s law to make sure one spouse isn’t left out unfairly from the other’s estate. It stops all the assets from being given away in a way that might not seem fair.

About 30% of the estate’s value is usually set aside for the surviving spouse. But, this share could change based on the types of assets. The main goal is to look after the spouse financially. This could happen even if the will doesn’t do so.

But, to get this elective share, you have to take legal steps. This can get involved and might mean questioning the will’s rules. It might involve looking at the entire estate plan critically. It’s a smart move to talk with a Florida attorney who knows about estate planning. They can help you understand the process better.

“The elective share makes sure surviving spouses in Florida get what they rightly deserve, even against the will’s wishes. It’s about being fair and recognizing the work both spouses put in during their marriage.”

Illustrative Example

For a clearer picture, let’s use an example:

Estate Value Elective Share (30%)
$500,000 $150,000
$1,000,000 $300,000
$2,000,000 $600,000

If the estate is $500,000, the surviving spouse would get $150,000. For a $1,000,000 estate, they’d receive $300,000. And if it’s a $2,000,000 estate, the spouse’s share could be up to $600,000.

The elective share is key in Florida. It helps surviving spouses be financially secure, even if the will doesn’t quite do that.

Exempt Property and Family Allowance for a Surviving Spouse in Florida

Besides the elective share, surviving spouses in Florida get exempt property and a family allowance.

Exempt property is for things like personal items, furniture, collections, and appliances. They can keep items worth up to $20,000. This way, the surviving spouse can keep what matters most, even if it’s not in the will.

The family allowance is also key. It gives the surviving family money during the probate process. This is especially helpful when minor children are involved. It helps the surviving spouse with day-to-day costs during a hard time.

In Florida, the family allowance’s max is $18,000. It can be given all at once or in parts. This offers a way to help with both immediate and future costs.

Exempt Property and Family Allowance for a Surviving Spouse in Florida

“The exempt property provision recognizes the significance and emotional value of personal belongings, allowing the surviving spouse to preserve cherished possessions. Meanwhile, the family allowance ensures that essential financial support is available while the probate process is underway.”

These rules are meant to ease the financial burden on surviving spouses. They aim to help keep life stable during probate. By allowing personal item exemptions and offering a financial safety net, Florida benefits spouses who have lost a loved one.

Pretermitted Spousal Share for a Surviving Spouse in Florida

If a spouse dies soon after getting married in Florida, special rules apply. If the deceased spouse didn’t include the living spouse in their will or didn’t update their will, the living spouse may have rights to a part of the estate. This share is called the ‘pretermitted spousal share.’ It’s like the living spouse’s part if the deceased spouse had no will.

However, some cases don’t follow this rule. For example, if a legal agreement (pre or postnuptial) waives the living spouse’s right, they might not get this share. Also, if the will clearly says the living spouse should not inherit, then it stands. In such cases, the living spouse might not receive the pretermitted spousal share.

Non-Probate Inheritance Laws in Florida

Florida has laws that let some assets be inherited without probate. These include:

  1. Retirement accounts
  2. Payable-on-death bank accounts
  3. Life insurance policies
  4. Transfer-on-death accounts
  5. Living trusts
  6. Jointly-owned bank accounts or real estate

To inherit these assets exclude from probate, the spouse must be listed as a beneficiary or owner when they were made. This way, these assets can pass straight to the spouse if the other dies.

This process makes inheritance easier. It means the living spouse can get the assets without going to court.

Non-Probate Inheritance Laws in Florida

Comparison of Probate and Non-Probate Assets in Florida

Probate Assets Non-Probate Assets
Real estate owned solely by the deceased Real estate held as joint tenants with right of survivorship
Bank accounts held solely by the deceased Payable-on-death bank accounts
Investment accounts held solely by the deceased Retirement accounts with named beneficiaries
Personal property owned solely by the deceased Life insurance policies with named beneficiaries
Vehicles owned solely by the deceased Living trusts

Looking at the table, probate assets need the probate process. This means court checks and possible delays. But, non-probate assets can go directly to the inheritors or owners. This way, the spouse can use the money right away.

What to Do if Your Spouse Has Passed Away in Florida

If your spouse has passed away in Florida, it’s key to do several things. First, express how sorry you are for the loss. Then, take time to mourn their death.

When ready, there are important steps you should take.

Consult a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer

The first step is to find a Florida estate planning lawyer. They will help you know your rights as the surviving spouse. They will explain what you need to do.

Probate Process and Inheritance

You may need to go through probate to get what your spouse left you. If there is no will or the will is not clear, probate is necessary. A lawyer can make sure you get what you should.

Organize Important Documents

Collect all the documents about your spouse’s estate. These could be the will, financial details, and more. This will help make the probate quicker and easier.

Inform Relevant Parties

Let key organizations know about your spouse’s death. This includes the bank and insurance companies. Quick notification helps avoid problems later on.

“It is crucial to have an experienced attorney by your side who can guide you through the process, explain the legal requirements, and ensure that you receive the inheritance you are entitled to.”

Evaluate Financial and Estate Planning

After your spouse dies, you should check your own financial and estate plans. Working with a lawyer can help update your will. It can also check your assets go to the right people.

Dealing with your spouse’s death and their estate is hard. But with the right steps and legal help, you can manage with less stress.

Steps to Take When Spouse Passes Away in Florida
Offer condolences for the loss.
Consult a Florida estate planning lawyer.
Navigate the probate process if necessary.
Organize important documents.
Inform relevant parties of the passing.
Evaluate your financial and estate planning needs.


In Florida, a surviving spouse doesn’t get all of their deceased spouse’s estate by default. But, they do have many rights under Florida’s inheritance laws. These rights include the elective share, exempt property, homestead property, family allowance, and the pretermitted spousal share. It’s vital for them to know their rights and talk to a Florida estate planning lawyer. This ensures they get what they are entitled to.

Estate planning is key to ensuring the wishes of the deceased are met. It also makes sure that the surviving spouse is well taken care of. Surviving spouses should work on their own estate plans. These plans should reflect their needs and wants. This can help avoid disagreements. It also secures the surviving spouse’s financial future.

For understanding and exercising inheritance rights in Florida, getting legal help is smart. An experienced Florida estate planning lawyer can guide through the probate process. This support can bring peace of mind. It makes sure surviving spouses’ rights are not overlooked. And, it protects their financial stability in the long run.


Does a Spouse Automatically Inherit Everything in Florida?

No, in Florida, a spouse doesn’t always get everything. The inheritance depends on the marriage and Florida’s laws on inheritance.

What Property and Assets Does a Surviving Spouse Inherit in Florida?

In Florida, a surviving spouse might inherit certain things. This includes the home and some of the estate’s value. What they get varies, even if there’s a will.

Homestead Inheritance for a Surviving Spouse in Florida

The homestead, or family home, goes to the surviving spouse. This law helps protect the surviving spouse’s living situation after their partner passes.

Elective Estate Inheritance for a Surviving Spouse in Florida

A surviving spouse can claim part of the deceased spouse’s estate. They could get about 30 percent. This is to ensure the surviving spouse is not left with nothing.

Exempt Property and Family Allowance for a Surviving Spouse in Florida

The spouse can keep personal possessions up to ,000. They may also get an ,000 allowance to help with living expenses. Both of these help the surviving spouse financially.

Pretermitted Spousal Share for a Surviving Spouse in Florida

If left out of the will, the surviving spouse might still get something. This is called a pretermitted share. However, this rule has some exceptions, like if there’s a waiving agreement.

Non-Probate Inheritance Laws in Florida

Some things don’t need probate in Florida to pass on. These include retirement funds and certain insurance payouts. This makes the process smoother for the family.

What to Do If Your Spouse Has Passed Away in Florida

If your spouse dies in Florida, express sympathy for the loss. Then, see an estate lawyer to know your rights. You might have to probate to get your inheritance.