30 Mar General Provisions Pertaining to Florida’s Probate Statute
General Provisions Pertaining to Florida’s Probate Statute
732.802 Killer not entitled to receive property or other benefits by reason of victim’s death.
732.804 Provisions relating to disposition of the body.
732.805 Spousal rights procured by fraud, duress, or undue influence.
732.802 Killer not entitled to receive property or other benefits by reason of victim’s death.—
(1) A surviving person who unlawfully and intentionally kills or participates in procuring the death of the decedent is not entitled to any benefits under the will or under the Florida Probate Code, and the estate of the decedent passes as if the killer had predeceased the decedent. Property appointed by the will of the decedent to or for the benefit of the killer passes as if the killer had predeceased the decedent.
(2) Any joint tenant who unlawfully and intentionally kills another joint tenant thereby effects a severance of the interest of the decedent so that the share of the decedent passes as the decedent’s property and the killer has no rights by survivorship. This provision applies to joint tenancies with right of survivorship and tenancies by the entirety in real and personal property; joint and multiple-party accounts in banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, and other institutions; and any other form of coownership with survivorship incidents.
(3) A named beneficiary of a bond, life insurance policy, or other contractual arrangement who unlawfully and intentionally kills the principal obligee or the person upon whose life the policy is issued is not entitled to any benefit under the bond, policy, or other contractual arrangement; and it becomes payable as though the killer had predeceased the decedent.
(4) Any other acquisition of property or interest by the killer, including a life estate in homestead property, shall be treated in accordance with the principles of this section.
(5) A final judgment of conviction of murder in any degree is conclusive for purposes of this section. In the absence of a conviction of murder in any degree, the court may determine by the greater weight of the evidence whether the killing was unlawful and intentional for purposes of this section.
(6) This section does not affect the rights of any person who, before rights under this section have been adjudicated, purchases from the killer for value and without notice property which the killer would have acquired except for this section, but the killer is liable for the amount of the proceeds or the value of the property. Any insurance company, bank, or other obligor making payment according to the terms of its policy or obligation is not liable by reason of this section unless prior to payment it has received at its home office or principal address written notice of a claim under this section.
732.804 Provisions relating to disposition of the body.—Before issuance of letters, any person may carry out written instructions of the decedent relating to the decedent’s body and funeral and burial arrangements. The fact that cremation occurred pursuant to a written direction signed by the decedent that the body be cremated is a complete defense to a cause of action against any person acting or relying on that direction.
732.805 Spousal rights procured by fraud, duress, or undue influence.—
(1) A surviving spouse who is found to have procured a marriage to the decedent by fraud, duress, or undue influence is not entitled to any of the following rights or benefits that inure solely by virtue of the marriage or the person’s status as surviving spouse of the decedent unless the decedent and the surviving spouse voluntarily cohabited as husband and wife with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, duress, or undue influence or both spouses otherwise subsequently ratified the marriage:
(a) Any rights or benefits under the Florida Probate Code, including, but not limited to, entitlement to elective share or family allowance; preference in appointment as personal representative; inheritance by intestacy, homestead, or exempt property; or inheritance as a pretermitted spouse.
(b) Any rights or benefits under a bond, life insurance policy, or other contractual arrangement if the decedent is the principal obligee or the person upon whose life the policy is issued, unless the surviving spouse is provided for by name, whether or not designated as the spouse, in the bond, life insurance policy, or other contractual arrangement.
(c) Any rights or benefits under a will, trust, or power of appointment, unless the surviving spouse is provided for by name, whether or not designated as the spouse, in the will, trust, or power of appointment.
(d) Any immunity from the presumption of undue influence that a surviving spouse may have under state law.
(2) Any of the rights or benefits listed in paragraphs (1)(a)-(c) which would have passed solely by virtue of the marriage to a surviving spouse who is found to have procured the marriage by fraud, duress, or undue influence shall pass as if the spouse had predeceased the decedent.
(3) A challenge to a surviving spouse’s rights under this section may be maintained as a defense, objection, or cause of action by any interested person after the death of the decedent in any proceeding in which the fact of marriage may be directly or indirectly material.
(4) The contestant has the burden of establishing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the marriage was procured by fraud, duress, or undue influence. If ratification of the marriage is raised as a defense, the surviving spouse has the burden of establishing, by a preponderance of the evidence, the subsequent ratification by both spouses.
(5) In all actions brought under this section, the court shall award taxable costs as in chancery actions, including attorney’s fees. When awarding taxable costs and attorney’s fees, the court may direct payment from a party’s interest, if any, in the estate, or enter a judgment that may be satisfied from other property of the party, or both.
(6) An insurance company, financial institution, or other obligor making payment according to the terms of its policy or obligation is not liable by reason of this section unless, before payment, it received written notice of a claim pursuant to this section.
(a) The notice required by this subsection must be in writing and must be accomplished in a manner reasonably suitable under the circumstances and likely to result in receipt of the notice. Permissible methods of notice include first-class mail, personal delivery, delivery to the person’s last known place of residence or place of business, or a properly directed facsimile or other electronic message.
(b) To be effective, notice to a financial institution or insurance company must contain the name, address, and the taxpayer identification number, or the account or policy number, of the principal obligee or person whose life is insured and shall be directed to an officer or a manager of the financial institution or insurance company in this state. If the financial institution or insurance company has no offices in this state, the notice shall be directed to the principal office of the financial institution or insurance company.
(c) Notice shall be effective when given, except that notice to a financial institution or insurance company is not effective until 5 business days after being given.
(7) The rights and remedies granted in this section are in addition to any other rights or remedies a person may have at law or equity.
(8) Unless sooner barred by adjudication, estoppel, or a provision of the Florida Probate Code or Florida Probate Rules, an interested person is barred from bringing an action under this section unless the action is commenced within 4 years after the decedent’s date of death. A cause of action under this section accrues on the decedent’s date of death.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
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