Have you been planning to remarry? If so, it can be important to understand some key estate planning issues that may be directly impacted by remarriage.
The first issue 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.
A second important issue regarding estate planning and remarriage in Florida comes into play 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 third issue regarding estate planning and remarriage in Florida involves Florida’s law regarding homestead property. In Florida, a married person cannot leave the homestead to anyone other than his or her spouse. Doing otherwise results in the spouse at least receiving a life estate interest in the homestead property and possibly receiving an entire interest in the homestead, depending on whether there are living descendants. This can be very significant because, assuming the home qualifies as a “homestead,” a surviving spouse is entitled to inherit the home, regardless of an attempt to leave it to another beneficiary in the will.
If any of these issues are relevant to you or your loved one’s circumstances, it is important to speak to an experienced Florida estate planning attorney so that these issues can be addressed and estate planning objectives can be achieved. Please contact our office in Palm City or Stuart to schedule an appointment.