Not everyone who struggles in their relationship with their spouse will wind up getting a divorce because of those issues. Some people, either due to a personal sense of ethics or a religious rule because their faith is important to them, will decide that divorce is not an option, even if their marriage is a source of misery and stress.

Some couples living in Florida may be in this untenable situation where they are no longer happy in their relationship but are not willing to go their separate ways. When one spouse dies, the problems in their relationship could lead to a serious shock when they finally read the terms of the last will or estate plan.

Some people will go so far as to disinherit their spouse or write them completely out of the last will. Other people may do something very cruel, like leaving behind $5 or a single personal possession with no kind of practical or financial support for their surviving spouse. What can a spouse do if they are a recent widow or widower who isn’t part of the estate plan or last will?

Florida protects spouses from total disinheritance

With so many people spending their golden years in Florida, it’s little surprise that the state has such a proactive approach to ensuring fair outcomes in probate scenarios. Among the rules, some of which are vastly different from standards in other states, Florida has statutory protections for a spouse who has been disinherited.

Regardless of what someone includes in their last will, their spouse has certain rights to the assets that they leave behind, including their marital home. Once the courts determine what constitutes the elective estate of the deceased, the surviving spouse has a statutory right to at least 30% of the remaining estate value after the repayment of any debts. Regardless of what the will says, a surviving spouse can ask the probate courts to allocate a share of the estate to them in accordance with state law.

Knowing your statutory rights can help you stand up for yourself and take appropriate action through the probate courts if your spouse attempted to disinherit you or otherwise included terms in their last will or estate plan that violates your rights or Florida state laws.