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Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be incredibly overwhelming. However, when that person is your other half, it may feel like your world has shattered. Not only are you grieving the loss of your loved one, but you also have to undergo the distribution of their estate. If you’re wondering whether or not a surviving spouse must undergo probate, the following blog can explore what you must know. Additionally, you’ll discover how a Pasco County, FL probate lawyer can help you through these complex matters.

What Is Probate?

When someone passes away, the courts must validate their estate planning documents before distributing assets according to the wishes of the deceased. A personal representative is generally named in the will and this individual will be officially appointed by the courts to carry out several responsibilities. For example, they must pay off debts, compile assets and oversee the distribution process.

There are three main types of probate, but not every estate must go through this process. Generally, it depends on the value of the assets in the estate and how the estate was planned.

What Are the Rights of a Surviving Spouse?

Generally, if your spouse passes away, as their spouse, you are entitled to a portion of their estate, even if they did not include you in the will. This protects the surviving spouses and children of a deceased party from disinheritance. For example, you have the right to claim an elective share from probate, which, in Florida, is at 30% of their estate.

Additionally, if your spouses passed in intestacy, also known as passing without a will, you could be entitled to the entirety of their estate. However, if your spouse had children from a different relationship, they would be entitled to half the remaining estate.

It’s also important to understand that under the homestead law, a creditor cannot force a surviving spouse out of their home to satisfy a judgment. This only applies to primary residences and does not exempt second properties from being seized.

How Can a Probate Attorney Help Me?

As a surviving spouse, there are certain rights in place. However, because there are many short deadlines in the probate process, it’s imperative to navigate this process carefully to ensure you can protect your benefits and rights. That’s why it’s in your best interest to connect with an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible, as you’ll want to ensure you have someone familiar with this process to guide you through.

At the Law Offices of Matthew J. Jowanna, P.A., we understand how complex these matters can be, which is why we are committed to doing everything in our power to help make this process as simple as possible for you. Our team can handle the legal complexities so you can focus on mourning and celebrating the life of your partner. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you.