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Florida’s Sweeping Elective Share

By Phillip B. Rarick, Esq., Miami Probate Attorney

Florida’s 30% elective share law was completely rewritten in 2001 because the old law could be easily circumvented by placing assets in a revocable trust or using non-probate transfers (e.g. life insurance, IRAs etc.)  In an effort to curtail such tactics, the legislature overhauled the statute and broadened the share.  The result is an expansive elective share that sweeps into the decedent’s “elective estate” many non-probate assets.  See F.S. §732.201 —§732.2155.

What Is Included?  Florida’s  elective share statute retains the 30% share under prior law, but introduces the concept of the “elective estate” (sometimes referred to as “augmented estate”)  that consists of the following property interests under F.S. §732.2035:

  • Decedent’s probate estate;
  • Decedent’s fractional interest in property held by the decedent in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship or tenancy by the entireties;
  • Property in a revocable trust or a discretionary trust for the decedent’s benefit;
  • Cash surrender value of insurance policies on the decedent’s life;
  • Death benefits payable under retirement plans;
  • Certain transfers within a year of the decedent’s death;
  • Transfers in satisfaction of the elective share;
  •  “Pay on Death” or “POD”; “Transfer on Death” or “TOD”;  and “In Trust For” or “I/T/F”; and  co-ownership with rights of survivorship accounts. The decedent’s interest is that portion that the decedent could withdraw immediately before death without an obligation to any person. If Tenancy by the Entireties, one-half is included.

This is not a complete list; see F.S. §732.2035.

What is Excluded?

Not much.    Here are some of the major exclusions:

  •         Real property that constitutes the decedent’s homestead;
  •         Insurance in excess of the cash surrender value is generally excluded;
  •         Gifts that qualify for the gift tax annual exclusion; and
  •         Transfers with the written consent of the spouse. (Spousal consent to gift split is not written consent.)

Again, this is not a complete list; see  F.S. §732.2045.

Deadline for Making Elective Share Election

The general rule is that the election must be  made within the earlier of six months of the  date of service of the Notice of Administration or two years from the date of death.  F.S. 732.2135.

Rarick & Beskin has been trusted by numerous law firms and many families during the past 20 years for probate,  estate planning, trust and asset protection cases.  To schedule an appointment  with Phil Rarick, a Miami probate attorney, call (305) 556-5209 or email info@raricklaw.com.

Special Note

The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced in Miami probate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

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