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What are pretermitted loved ones in wills?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2019 | Estate Planning, Firm News

Estate planning in Florida is not always a simple. Many times, people create a document such as a will and they proceed to have long lives after the fact. This is not a bad thing. Having an estate plan is smart, especially for people who are in good health and are not expecting anything negative to happen to them in the short-term.

However, there are issues with an estate plan that might not have been updated to reflect life changes. One is if there were “pretermitted” loved ones.

Pretermitted people are those who would otherwise inherit assets under the law but were not included in an estate plan. The laws apply to spouses and children who might have been pretermitted. If a spouse is pretermitted, the testator might have married after the will was completed and the spouse will survive him or her. In such a case, the surviving spouse will be entitled to an amount of the estate that is equal to what would have been received if the testator died intestate. For this not to happen, the following must be in effect: there was a provision made or waived by the spouse in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement; the spouse has been provided for based on the will; or the will states there should be no provisions for the spouse.

If there are children of the testator who became the testator’s children after the will was completed and they are not included in the will, they will receive an equal amount based on what they would have gotten if the testator died intestate. Exceptions are: if the omission appears to have been done intentionally; or if there were one or more children at the time the will was created and executed, and the other parent of that child is still alive and received the estate.

Every family situation is different, and a comprehensive estate plan must reflect that. For people who have a spouse and children who are pretermitted under the law, they might want to update the document to reflect their desires. Talking to a lawyer is wise. For family members who are pretermitted and would like to dispute this classification, having legal advice is also needed.