Why Estate Planning is Critical for Unmarried Couples in Florida
While estate planning is essential for married individuals, it is no less important for unmarried couples. In fact, creating an estate plan may be even more critical if you are dating someone but have not married yet. With more and more individuals deciding that marriage is not an option for them, it is important that you plan.
Having an estate plan will ensure that you and your partner can make critical decisions and can be entitled to each other’s property and assets. In Florida, the intestacy laws control who inherits your property at your death if you do not have a Will. Those heirs are limited to bloodline relatives or your spouse’s bloodline relatives.
Unfortunately, Florida’s intestate succession law does not protect unmarried individuals. Florida also does not recognize common law marriage. Unless you have an estate plan in Florida, your partner will be unable to inherit your property and will be excluded from the decision-making process after your death. Moreover, if you become incapacitated, your partner could be totally excluded from any part of the decision-making process for your benefit.
6 Estate Planning Tips for Unmarried Couples
If you are not married but have a long-term partner, you should consider creating an estate plan. We present general estate planning tips for unmarried couples in Florida. However, it is advised to speak with a St. Petersburg estate planning attorney to review your particular situation.
- Own the property jointly. If you are not married yet, the easiest way to ensure that your partner can inherit your property following your death is through joint ownership. If one joint owner dies, the other joint owner will own the property by operation of law. Joint ownership can also help avoid probate litigation.
- Name your partner as your beneficiary. Your bank and retirement accounts will pass to your partner if he or she is designated as your beneficiary. This can also be called a Pay on Death or Transfer on Death Beneficiary designation.
- Establish a durable power of attorney. With a durable power of attorney, you can grant your partner the authority to handle your legal and financial issues in the event you become incapacitated or disabled.
- Appoint your partner as your health care surrogate. A health care surrogate will have the authority to make healthcare-related decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so on your own.
- Include your partner in your will. A will allows the testator (the person who writes a will) to name their heirs and the guardians for any minor children. Also, you can choose the Personal Representative (also called Executor) of your estate in the will. That person will be responsible for distributing your assets and carrying out the terms of your will. You can choose your partner to serve as the Personal Representative.
- Create a revocable trust. If you and your partner are not married yet, consider creating a revocable trust, which can be developed in a way that allows your partner to handle your financial matters and avoid probate in Florida.
Consult with a knowledgeable St. Petersburg estate planning lawyer to determine the most suitable plan for you if you are not married in Florida. Contact our attorneys at Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, to get a consultation at 727-471-5868 today.