Florida law has solid protective laws to guarantee that a decedent’s wife will receive her fair share of her husband’s estate. Whether the husband died without a will or wrote a will directing the transfer of property to other individuals, the wife’s rights are protected by law.
In this article, you will find out what a surviving wife is entitled to when her husband dies in Florida.
What is a Wife Entitled When Husband Dies in Florida? – Taking a Closer Look
Surviving Spouse’s Intestate Share
When someone dies without a will, the decedent’s estate is considered intestate. In such cases, the court must distribute the estate following a statutory order of preference. Florida Statutes §732.102 specifies that “the intestate share of the surviving spouse is:
- If there is no surviving descendant of the decedent, the entire intestate estate
- If the decedent is survived by one or more descendants, all of whom are also descendants of the surviving spouse, and the surviving spouse has no other descendant, the entire intestate estate
- If there are one or more surviving descendants of the decedent who are not lineal descendants of the surviving spouse, one-half of the intestate estate
- If there are one or more surviving descendants of the decedent, all of whom are also descendants of the surviving spouse, and the surviving spouse has one or more descendants who are not descendants of the decedent, one-half of the intestate estate”
As provided by Florida Statutes §732.201, “the surviving spouse of a person who dies domiciled in Florida has the right to a share of the elective estate of the decedent as provided in this part, to be designated the elective share.”
The surviving spouse has the right to elect up to 30% of a decedent husband’s estate as part of her inheritance, whether the property has been devised for her in the last will.
Please note that “the election does not reduce what the spouse receives if the election were not made, and the spouse is not treated as having predeceased the decedent.” (F.S. §732.201)
The homestead exemption is a right expressed in Florida’s Constitution to protect a resident’s primary residence. Section 4(2)(b) of Article X expressly states that the homestead exemption “shall inure to the surviving spouse or heirs of the owner.”
If the owner of a Florida homestead is survived by a wife and one or more descendants, the surviving wife receives a life estate in the property. Hence, she can remain living on the property while the descendants will inherit it when she passes away.
A surviving wife can also elect to receive a half-undivided interest in the property, owning 50% of the homestead as a tenant in common with her deceased husband’s descendants.
Tenancy by the Entirety
Florida law allows married couples to own property through “tenancy by the entirety.” In this unique type of ownership allowed only to married couples, each tenant owns the entire property – no 50/50 or any other ownership percentages.
When a husband dies, the surviving wife does not need to inherit the decedent’s share, as she already owns the property in its entirety.