Are you anticipating the New Year? Is it because you are planning to remarry in 2023? Are you and your future spouse fully immersed in wedding plans including a wedding venue, getting family together and all the other festivities surrounding a wedding celebration? What about your planning for the future, including your Florida estate plan?
Did you know that marriage, remarriage and estate planning often work hand in hand? In a first marriage, the goals of each spouse are typically aligned: take care of the surviving spouse for as long as he or she lives, and then divide what is left equally among the children. Also, if the children are still minors, you set up a trust for the kids until they are adults. This makes sense because most couples jointly own their assets but not necessarily when dealing with remarriage and estate planning.
In a remarriage or when marrying later in life or after amassing significant wealth, however, the goals may not be so perfectly aligned, and the former methods for estate planning may not work as well. Here is one example for you to consider. If you decide to put your new spouse on the title of your home, it is now considered to be owned jointly with the right of survivorship. That means, when you pass away, the home becomes the property of your spouse, without restriction, and there may be no guarantee that he or she will pass it along to your children from a prior relationship.
Therefore, a good tip for remarriage and estate planning would be to consider planning separately. This can be particularly true if you or your soon-to-be spouse have significant assets. You should definitely make this decision together by having an honest conversation about your individual estate planning goals. If your goals are sufficiently similar, then you may be able to plan jointly. If they are significantly different, consider having separate attorneys.
Another tip regarding estate planning and remarriage in Florida is when one or both spouses have children from a prior marriage. Unless formally adopted or written into estate planning documents as a beneficiary, stepchildren do not have the inheritance rights of natural-born children. It can, therefore, be extremely important for the parties to discuss what they want to happen to their assets when they die, including to whom they want the assets to pass, so that a plan can be put into place to make sure those wishes are given effect.
A final tip to be aware of is that Florida, unlike many other states, allows a spouse to elect against the will and inherit thirty percent of the decedent’s estate. This means, for example, that if one spouse chooses to leave the entire estate to his or her children, the surviving spouse will have the ability, under Florida law, to essentially overrule those estate plans and inherit thirty percent of the estate directly.
Our office can help guide a couple through their estate planning before or after their remarriage. No matter where you are in life’s journey, we can help. The most important thing is to protect yourself and those you love. Whether you need to update your estate plan, are preparing for future long-term care needs, or have a loved one entering or already in a nursing home, we are ready to assist you. We have three convenient locations and are ready to serve the communities around Highlands and Polk County, Florida. Take your first step by contacting us today.