Liability of Surving Spouse for Claims Against Decedent in Florida

In Florida, the surviving spouse is not liable for claims against the decedent. Under the common law a husband was responsible for the deceased wife’s expenses for necessities, last illness, and funeral expenses.

At common law, a married woman’s legal identity merged with that of her husband, a condition known as coverture. She was unable to own property, enter into contracts, or receive credit. A married woman was therefore dependent upon her husband for maintenance and support, and he was under a corresponding legal duty to provide his wife with food, clothing, shelter, and medical services.

In 1995 the Florida Supreme court abrogated the common-law doctrine of necessaries in the case Connor v. Southwest Florida Regional medical Center, Inc., 668 So.2d 175 (FLA. 1995).

Now neither a husband nor a wife is liable for the other’s expenses for necessities in Florida.

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