Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Decedent's Wife Entitled to Life Estate with Homestead Status

In Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC v. Giblin (4D08-1117) the Fourth DCA affirmed the circuit court's order concluding that the decedents child and former wife were protected by Florida's homestead laws. The Fourth DCA stated:

Decedent and Nivia Giblin were married in 1959. They had a daughter together. In 1981 they separated but never divorced. In 2000, decedent purchased a piece of residential property in Broward County. Title to the property was placed in the decedent’s name. The wife and daughter lived in the home, but decedent never did. Decedent died in 2001.

The language of article X, section 4 is clear and unambiguous. Here, decedent was a natural person who owned property occupied by his wife and child at the time of his death; thus, the property is homestead. Because decedent died leaving a spouse, the descent of his property is controlled by section 732.401(1), Florida Statutes (2001). As such, the wife is entitled to a life estate in the homestead with a vested remainder to the descendants. § 732.401(1), Fla. Stat.


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