Estate planning is a process that involves the legal structuring of the disposition of one’s assets. All couples, whether married or unmarried, should participate in the estate planning process. In fact, estate planning is particularly important for unmarried couples, as they have less legal protection than married couples. If you are part of an unmarried couple in Florida, below are some things you should consider before beginning the estate planning process.
Things to Consider
- Wills – Unmarried partners in a committed relationship should each have a will in place. Without wills, the state makes all decisions regarding each partner’s asset distribution after death. And unfortunately, most state intestacy statutes only distribute assets to surviving blood relatives—a situation that leaves the surviving partner with nothing. It is for this reason that wills are essential for unmarried couples.
- The family home – Unmarried couples often wish to leave the family home to their surviving children while simultaneously protecting each other’s property interests. A method of addressing this issue is through the creation of a life estate for the surviving partner in the unmarried relationship. A life estate ensures that the surviving partner in an unmarried relationship will remain in the family home until his or her death or some other specific event.
- Health care – Health care is imperative, and it must be addressed during the estate planning process, particularly when an unmarried couple is involved. Healthcare agreements often authorize medical providers to relay health information about each partner to the other. Without such an agreement, health care providers may only discuss personal health information with each partner’s immediate family.
- Domestic partnership agreements – A domestic partnership agreement is a contract that outlines the financial and legal details of an unmarried couple’s relationship, addressing issues such as income, assets, bank accounts, and property. Every unmarried couple should strongly consider the use of a domestic partnership agreement.
- Children – Child care and custody are particularly important issues that unmarried couples should address during the estate planning process. One way to address this issue is through each partner’s will.
Florida Estate Planning Attorneys
Whether you are married or part of an unmarried couple, a well-drafted estate plan has many important benefits for you and your family. In fact, due to state intestacy laws, estate planning may be even more important for you if you are part of an unmarried couple. However, regardless of your martial situation, estate planning can be extremely complicated, and it’s easy to overlook critical steps when attempting to navigate the process alone. In order to protect your rights and plan for your future, please consider contacting an attorney to discuss your estate planning options. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Herzog, P.A., our experienced Florida estate planning attorneys provide our clients with sophisticated estate planning guidance and assistance, including the preparation of wills, trusts, and other essential services. Please contact us for a consultation.