If a person dies in Florida leaving a spouse or dependent lineal heirs, those persons may need financial support while the probate is pending. Since probate can take in excess of a year, this can impose a significant financial burden on the spouse or heirs. So, can those persons receive any portion of the probate estate while waiting for the probate to run its course? If they do receive some portion of the estate for support, does that amount reduce their entitlement as a beneficiary?
Section 732.403, Fla. Stat. provides that when a person dies leaving a spouse or dependents who are lineal heirs, the spouse and heirs can receive a family allowance to help support them while the probate in pending. This allowance applies only if the decedent had a surviving spouse or lineal heirs who were being supported by the decedent.
This entitlement provides for a reasonable allowance in money out of the estate for the spouse's or heirs' maintenance during the administration. The court may order this allowance to be paid as a lump sum or in periodic installments. However, the allowance cannot exceed a total of $18,000.00.
These family allowance benefits are in addition to the protected homestead and other statutory entitlements. In addition, the family allowance is not chargeable against any benefit or share otherwise passing to the surviving spouse or to the dependent lineal heirs, unless the decedent's Will provides otherwise.
If you are a spouse or lineal heir of a deceased person, you should seek legal counsel from an experienced probate attorney to determine if you are entitled to family allowance.