Estate Planning for All!
While available in some states, common law marriage and same-sex marriage are not recognized in Florida. This means that unmarried couples, same-sex couples and couples in other committed non-traditional relationships cannot rely on the government to provide them with protections and benefits that traditional married couples take for granted, such as Florida’s inheritance laws. Under Florida law, if a person dies without a Last Will and Testament, his or her property passes onto his/her spouse and/or issue per stirpes (a statutory method of apportioning a decedent’s assets between heirs).
So, Florida’s inheritance laws may have the opposite effect for non-traditional couples in committed relationships. An individual in a non-traditional relationship, who passes away without a Last Will and Testament, stands to have his/her assets distributed down the line to his/her parents, brothers and sisters, in some cases to people who’ve actively denounced or ostracized him/her, to anyone but the individual’s partner, who may have devoted his/her life to the individual.
In the event of your hospitalization, your partner can be excluded from your hospital room and be denied access to information pertaining to your health status. He/she can be denied any privilege that a traditional spouse enjoys unless you make your wishes very clear, in writing, in a document executed according to all the formalities with fancy calligraphy on the first page.
In order to avoid the adverse effect of Florida’s inheritance laws, committed non-traditional couples have to take extra care to ensure that their estate planning is ironclad and up-to-date. The Last Will and Testament is the centerpiece of your estate planning. It allows you to apportion your assets as you see fit and ensure that each and every dime you own goes to the one person in your life who deserves it most. Through a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, you can empower the person who knows you best to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. Through a Durable Power of Attorney, you can appoint the person who supported you through thick and thin to make financial decisions and engage in financial transactions in your place.
The attorneys at the Law Firm of Grigaltchik & Galustov, P.A. stand ready to answer any questions you may have about estate planning in Florida. You may reach us at (904) 738-8398. When the law fails you, protect yourself.