Is a Gift of Homestead Property Protected from Forced Sale ?

In Snyder v. Davis, 699 So. 2d 999 (Fla. 1997), the decedent left a will devising cash gifts to her children. In the residuary clause of her will, the decedent left the "rest, residue and remainder" of her property to her granddaughter, K Snyder. Her only surviving child was M Snyder, K Snyder's father. The personal representative attempted to sell the homestead property to satisfy the cash gift to M and creditors' claims and to pay the costs of administration. The personal representative argued that K would not have qualified as an heir under the intestacy statute because M was first in line and would have been the sole taker of the protected homestead. The personal representative reasoned that K should not be permitted to receive the homestead free from protection. The personal representative advocated the forced sale of the homestead to pay the general cash bequest to M. Guided by the principle of interpreting homestead protections broadly, this Court held otherwise. Id. at 1002, 1005. The Court concluded that any person to whom homestead property is devised under a will and who is categorized as an "heir" in the intestacy statute, regardless of whether that person would be next in line had the decedent died intestate, receives protected homestead property under the Florida Constitution. Id. at 1005. the Court opined that the testator is in the best position to know which family member is most likely to need or to properly maintain the homestead. Id. The certified question in Snyder asked whether K's gift of homestead property, which passed to her via the residuary clause of her grandmother's will, was protected from forced sale even though her father, M, would have received the property had the decedent died intestate. The Court answered the question in the affirmative.