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Simultaneous Death – Florida vs. Canada

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Simultaneous Death In Florida

Florida, like all states in the United States, has a simultaneous death rule that provides that, in the event where the death order of two people cannot be determined, each person will be presumed to have survived the named heir.  In practice, it works as follows:

Two brothers, Bob (the older brother) and Sam (the younger brother), each have wills naming each other as their heirs, with Bob’s will naming sister Beatrice as his backup heir, and Sam’s will naming sister Sally as his backup heir.  The application of the Florida simultaneous death rule would treat each brother as having survived the other brother.  For Bob’s estate , the provision leaving everything to Sam would fail because Sam would be treated as having already passed, leaving Beatrice as the next heir in line. The same result would apply in Sam’s estate, leaving everything to Sally.

If Bob and Sam owned property together with the right of survivorship, the simultaneous death law would put one-half of each property into their respective estates.  So Bob’s estate would have one-half of the property, and Sam’s estate would have one-half of the property.  This would leave Beatrice and Sally each owning one-half of the property.

Simultaneous Death in British Columbia

The law of British Columbia, in the event of simultaneous death and the order of death cannot be determined, is different than the simultaneous death rule in Florida.  In British Columbia, the rule is that the older person is treated as having passed first.

(1) Except as provided in subsections (2), (3) and (4), if 2 or more persons die at the same time or in circumstances that make it uncertain which of them survived the other or others, those deaths are, for all purposes affecting the title to property, presumed to have occurred in the order of seniority, and accordingly the younger is deemed to have survived the older.  SURVIVORSHIP AND PRESUMPTION OF DEATH ACT [RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 444.

In our example, because Bob is the older brother, he is treated as having passed first.  Accordingly, for Bob’s estate, he is treated as having died while Sam is alive.  Bob’s estate therefore goes to Sam’s estate, and then Sam’s entire estate goes to Sally.  For jointly owned property, all goes to Sam’s estate, and then to Sally.


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