Webb v. Blue

Webb v. Blue, 243 So.3d 1054 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018)

In this 1st DCA decision, we get another refresher on some aspects of Florida's homestead law. Namely, this decision gets into the issue of how to validly devise homestead property to a non-heir, when the decedent is survived by heirs (but not a spouse or minor children).

The decedent here was survived by no spouse and no minor children. He devised his "entire estate" to a friend, but did not specifically reference his homestead as part of the entire estate. Relatives of the decedent filed a Petition to Determine Homestead Status, asserting that the property was the decedent's homestead and descended to the decedent's heirs since there was no specific intent in the will to pass the homestead property to the friend. The trial court denied the Petition, finding that because the decedent was not survived by a spouse or minor child, he could freely devise his homestead to anyone and the will was clear about his intent.

On appeal, the Court affirmed the denial of the Petition. It reviewed Florida homestead law, and found that because the decedent was not survived by a spouse or minor children, he had two options: he could devise his homestead to his heirs to maintain the homestead's protection against creditors, or he could devise the homestead to someone other than an heir, which would make the homestead an asset of the estate subject to expenses and creditors.  The Court held that because there is no constitutional, statutory, or common law requirement that the decedent specifically devise his homestead to his friend because he was survived by heirs, the language in his will about his "entire estate" was sufficient to devise the property to the friend and make the homestead an asset of the estate available to creditors.

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