Deathbed Marriages Become More Risky and Less Profitable

Being the spouse of a decedent comes with some significant rights.  A surviving spouse can claim thirty percent (30%) of a significant portion of the spouse’s estate as an “elective share.”  The surviving spouse may also be entitled to an $18,000.00 family allowance, exempt property, a life estate in the deceased spouse’s homestead, and other benefits and rights.

Unfortunately, this means that it is not uncommon for unscrupulous individuals to marry people late in life to gain these rights.  Fortunately, the Florida legislature recently passed a law that makes it possible to deny the rights and benefits of a surviving spouse to a spouse who procured the marriage by fraud, duress, or undue influence.  See, Fla. Stat. sec. 732.805 Previously, heirs and beneficiaries could do little to challenge a deathbed marriage.