Thursday, August 29, 2013
Recently, several states have enacted statutes to allow heirs the ability to challenge a deathbed marriage. Despite some states developing a process to contest a deathbed marriage, many of the new laws still have some serious problems.
In 2008, Florida published a study on Florida law on the laws regarding challenges within probate proceeding to the validity of marriages after a spouse’s death. The surviving spouse will receive many benefits including rights to the homestead, family allowance and others.There was no law available to challenge the validity of deathbed marriages and case law claiming that they could not be challenged.
Because of the report, in 2010 Florida passed legislation granting people the right to challenge rights granted to the surviving spouse. The statute of limitations is four years after the decedent's death. However, there are still loopholes in the statute. The statute allows a surviving spouse who fraudulently entered into the marriage is not entitled to, among other things, “any rights or benefits under a will, trust, or power of appointment, unless the surviving spouse is provided for by name, whether or not designated as the spouse, in the will, trust, or power of appointment.”
See John T. Brooks and Jena L. Levin, "I Do - And Yes, He Does, Too", Wealth Management, Aug. 27, 2013.Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.