Wednesday, September 3, 2014
In the recent case, Friscia v. Friscia, the Florida probate court and the Florida Second District Court of Appeal encountered a situation involving a homestead, divorce, marital settlement agreement, a second spouse, and a life estate. Needless to say, the issues were confusing. However, the court was able to clearly reach a clear, articulable decision.
In this case, the second wife Nora, is the surviving spouse of Vincent Friscia (Decedent), and the personal representative of the Decedent’s estate. Robin Friscia is Decedent’s former wife and mother of Decedent’s two kids, Nicholas and Thomas. When Decedent and former wife divorced in 2008, the couple entered into a marital settlement agreement (MSA) that was incorporated into a final judgment. The MSA provided for the division of the marital home and granted the former wife exclusive use and possession of the home until the parties’ youngest child graduated from high school. Because the marital home was to be listed for sale and the proceeds divided equally, the former wife also got the option to buy out the Decedent’s interest in the home.
Decedent died in 2011 while he was married to his second wife. When he died, his son Nicholas was still in high school and living in the former marital home with the former wife. Thomas subsequently asked the Florida probate court to determine the homestead status of the former marital home. Thomas claimed the home was Decedent’s homestead, and the title to Decedent’s interest in the property went to Decedent’s sons and to the second wife.
Over the second wife’s objection, the Florida Probate court resolved that Decedent owned the marital home as a tenant in common with the former wife, and his interest was entitled to homestead protection. Thus, the former wife and the second wife each owned a one half interest in the former marital home as tenants in common, with the second wife having a life estate.
See Anya Van Veen, Florida Homestead, Divorce, Second Spouses, and Life Estates, Clark Skatoff, Sept. 2, 2014.