What Is a Family Allowance Under Florida Probate Law?

By Jim Thomas

A family allowance under Florida probate law is an amount of money granted to a deceased person's surviving spouse and children during the probate administration process. The purpose of a family allowance is to provide money for the spouse and children to live on until the estate is settled, a matter than can take months and sometimes even years.

Probate Laws

The Florida Bar Association describes probate as a "court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person, paying the decedent's debts, and distributing the decedent's assets to his or her beneficiaries." The person's assets, commonly called his estate, are normally used to pay the cost of probate, outstanding tax bills and any outstanding debts left by the deceased person at the time of death. The remaining assets of the estate are then distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate.

Family Allowance

If a husband was living in Florida when he died, the surviving spouse and any minor children he was supporting or obligated to support are entitled to a "reasonable" allowance paid from the assets of his estate. Family allowances cannot exceed $18,000 and may be paid in a lump sum or in installments.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Elective Share

In addition to a family allowance, Florida law entitles a surviving spouse to 30 percent of a decedent's estate. For example, if the will leaves 10 percent of the estate to the surviving spouse and 90 percent to the Humane Society, the spouse is nonetheless entitled to 30 percent. The family allowance and the elective share laws shelter a surviving spouse and minor children from financial deprivation during and after the probate process. However, a premarital or post-marital agreement carries more weight than an elective share and can void a surviving spouse's right to claim it.


A family allowance isn't "chargeable" against the share of a decedent's estate the surviving spouse and children are entitled to inherit, unless the will states otherwise. Thus, the surviving spouse and children are free to collect both a family allowance and the full value of the estate left to them. If both the husband and wife are deceased, the surviving children are entitled to ask for a family allowance to be paid to them or their guardians.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Florida Probate Court Laws of the Deceased


Related articles

Death Without a Will in Michigan

Under Michigan law, when a person dies without a will, it is said the person died intestate. The law has rules for what happens to a person's property when a person dies without a will. These rules are necessary because there is no will to provide direction as to how the deceased wished to distribute his property. The probate court will distribute property that was not owned jointly, as well as property that did not have a named beneficiary, according to Michigan law.

Texas Probate Laws & Homestead Rights for an Unmarried Child

If your family depends on you for support, your death may be especially hard on them because they will lose your financial support in addition to losing someone they love. The home your family lives in, called a homestead, may be financially protected after your death. Texas provides special rules that may protect your home from being seized and sold to pay your debts after your death, saving your unmarried children from being forced from their home.

What Are Sanctions in a Divorce Case?

Sanctions during a divorce proceeding are penalties for bad behavior by a spouse or his attorney during a divorce. Sanctions can be imposed by a family law judge and are governed by state law. Sanctions, in the form of monetary damages, may be assessed if one party to a divorce acts in a manner that unreasonably delays the settlement of the case. For example, you can be compelled to pay the attorney fees of your soon-to-be ex-spouse, fined a large amount of money or denied an equitable share of the assets of the marriage.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Probate Law & Illinois Statute of Limitations

The purpose of any probate code, including that of Illinois, is to ensure a decedent’s property is properly ...

Intestacy Rules in Colorado

Colorado's intestacy rules are similar to the rules found in other states but don't provide for inheritances by remote ...

Do All Wills Need to Be Probated in Massachusetts?

Probate in Massachusetts is a legal proceeding used to validate a will, appoint an executor to oversee the estate and ...

Probate Laws on the Next of Kin

When someone dies without a will, state laws -- the so-called "laws of intestate succession" -- determine who inherits ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED