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Can I Inherit From My Ex-Spouse in Florida?

Can I Inherit From My Ex-Spouse in Florida?

There are few legal matters that divorce does not complicate, and that is also true of estate law. If your ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse has recently passed away, you may be wondering whether you are still entitled to inherit from them if you are named in their will. Unfortunately, there is not a simple one-size-fits-all response. The answer can depend on a number of factors, which we will explore in more depth below. The best way to get an accurate understanding of what you are entitled to is to speak directly to a Florida trusts and estates attorney. 

Determining Whether You Can Inherit From Your Ex-Spouse in Florida 

  • Did they die before the divorce was finalized? If you filed for divorce or were engaged in divorce proceedings prior to your spouse’s death, but had not yet concluded the proceedings and were not legally divorced, you will likely still be able to inherit anything that they left you, the logic being that you were still legally their spouse and if they were still alive, you may have mutually agreed not to go through with the proceedings even though they had been initiated. 
  • If the divorce was finalized. If the divorce was finalized prior to their death, the general rule is that you are no longer entitled to receive anything that was left to you by your ex-spouse in a will that was prepared during your marriage. Under Florida law, the ex-spouse is instructed to be treated as having died at the time of the divorce for the purposes of distributing assets. However, there are exceptions. 
  • When was the will created? The Florida statutes that prevent inheritance by an ex-spouse from their former spouse only apply if the will was made during their marriage. If the will was created prior to the time you and your ex-spouse were married and named you as a beneficiary, the Florida statute does not apply and you will likely be able to inherit. Additionally, if the will was created or updated after the divorce and still included you as a beneficiary, your inheritance will not be affected as the testator has then made their intention clear. 
  • Was inheritance by an ex-spouse covered elsewhere? The Florida statute barring inheritance by an ex-spouse is meant to protect the wishes of the deceased ex-spouse in the event that they did not update their will after the divorce. However, if a prenuptial, postnuptial, or divorce agreement explicitly states that a divorce should not impact the other spouse’s ability to inherit, then this will overcome the otherwise default statute. 

Talk to a Florida Trusts and Estates Attorney 

As you can see, matters of inheritance can be very complicated and even courts often disagree on how the statute should be interpreted and applied. If you are going through a divorce or your ex-spouse has recently passed away, it is important to talk to an attorney to get an accurate understanding of how this will affect your inheritance rights. Call the experienced trust and estates attorneys at Miami, Florida’s SG Law Firm today to schedule a consultation and ensure that you legally receive what you deserve.

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