Rights of Surviving Spouses

A surviving spouse is an individual who was legally married to a person that is now deceased. As a surviving spouse, there are rights and inheritances that you may be entitled to, even if a decedent’s will does not specify those rights. A probate lawyer in Gainesville, FL can ensure that you gain the portions of your deceased spouse’s estate that are accessible to you via Florida probate laws and administration.

Surviving Spouse's Rights & Entitlements

There is no greater agony experienced than losing one’s spouse. Not only do the obvious feelings of pain and discomfort emerge, but surviving spouses are often forced to figure out a new way to live, provide for children, and afford everyday expenses and bills. If you are a surviving spouse, you should contact Florida probate lawyers at Silverman, Mack & Associates. Whether your deceased spouse owned a legitimate will or not, Florida probate laws guarantee specific benefits, rights and entitlements to you. In addition, the majority of the entitlements that you receive as a surviving spouse are free from the claims of any creditors.

Elective Share

First, as a surviving spouse, you should be aware that you may be entitled to more than what your deceased spouse may have left for you in his/her will. If your deceased spouse has left less than his/her entire estate to you, then you have two options to consider. You may (1) accept the will as is or (2) opt to obtain an elective share. If you choose the latter, it is essential that you consult with a probate lawyer. An elective share allows you to take up to thirty percent of your deceased spouse’s augmented estate, which includes gifts, joint accounts, insurances and other assets that may not be calculated during the probate administration process. In order to qualify for this election, however, you must file a notice within rigid time requirements. Again, it is best to speak with a Gainesville probate attorney about these issues. Opting to enroll in an elective share can have serious implications on your future and the way in which your deceased spouse’s estate is divided to remaining heirs and beneficiaries. You will need to be aware of these factors before making a decision.

Intestate Estate

For many surviving spouses, there is no will to govern how a decedent’s estate will be distributed to beneficiaries, if any. When a decedent lacks a valid and permissible will, his/her assets are considered intestate estate. Per Florida probate laws, you are entitled to collect your deceased spouse’s estate if there is no existing will. Children of deceased individuals who lack wills are also eligible to share the benefits of a decedent’s estate.

Although Florida probate laws protect surviving spouses in intestate estate claims, if a decedent has significant debts, the benefits of such spouses (and eligible children) may be decreased. The state of Florida has the right to collect any and all applicable fees before providing any benefits to a surviving spouse, so it is best to speak to a probate attorney in Gainesville, FL if you are concerned with your deceased loved one’s liabilities.

Life & Housing Estate

It is standard for married couples to live with each other within the same home. When an individual dies, his/her spouse is entitled to continue to live in the marital home (rent-free) for the full duration of his/her life. Surviving spouses may also rent the home to tenants. When the surviving spouse dies, the homestead is passed on to any remaining children.

Further, surviving spouses are entitled to household furniture and appliances totaling up to twenty thousand dollars. If there are vehicles that were owned by a decedent and frequently used by members of the family, the surviving spouse is entitled to keep no more than two of those vehicles.

Allowance for Support

One of the most crucial issues faced by surviving spouses is the inability to afford basic living expenses and/or the ability to maintain the standard of living. Florida probate laws recognize this and as a result, surviving spouses may receive an alliance that is worth eighteen thousand dollars. This financial benefit aims to assist surviving spouses (especially those with children) with adjusting to their new circumstances.

Probate Law Firm in Florida

At Silverman, Mack & Associates, our Florida probate attorneys have worked with numerous surviving spouses through the probate administration process. Burying a spouse is tough and dividing a decedent’s estate adds extra stress on families. However, you should be aware that you are entitled to unique benefits and monetary privileges that may make life easier to handle after the death of a loved one. Contact our probate law firm in Florida today to learn more about what you are owed as a surviving spouse.