My husband dies without a will, and he has children of a prior marriage. Do I have to take any action to obtain an interest in his house?

Yes if you want to own part of the home.  Under Florida Statute §732.401 you have six (6) months from your spouse’s date of death to file an election to take a one-half ownership interest in the marital home.  If you do not make this election, then you will receive a life estate in the marital home, and your spouse’s children will receive a vested remainder interest in the home (that means they own the home outright after you die).  Having a life estate in a house is not usually a great option because generally you will fight with the children of the deceased spouse over the maintenance of the house, and it is difficult to sell a life estate because the life estate is only valid as long as you are alive.   The election must be made by filing a notice of election containing the legal description of the homestead property for recording in the official record books of the county or counties where the homestead property is located.    For questions concerning probate or estate administration call Florida Bar Board certified wills, trusts and estates expert Matthew A. Linde today at 239.939.7100!

Matthew A. Linde
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