The Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled this month that personal representatives of estates are no longer allowed to deduct attorney’s fees from a spouse’s elective share when litigating claims against the spouse’s stake in the inheritance. This holding of this case means that a spouse’s inheritance may now be much larger due to avoiding attorney’s costly fees.
So what exactly is an elective share in Florida? An elective share is a term that describes the portion of an estate that the surviving spouse of the deceased may claim through intestate succession or in place of what the spouse was left in the decedent’s will. Florida passed this law to ensure that no surviving spouse could be left with nothing. In Florida, a spouse is entitled to an amount equal to 30 percent of the elective estate.
Property that can be included in an elective share includes all property subject to estate administration in any state. This can include: joint bank accounts, Totten trusts, property held in joint tenancy, revocable trusts, life insurance policies, pensions and retirement plans, and other property passing directly to a surviving spouse.