Same-sex marriage has been valid and recognized in Palm City since 2015. Because this change in the law has been fairly recent, some same-sex couples have not thought about how this change affects estate planning.
If you are a spouse in a same-sex union, you may want to consider speaking with an estate planning attorney about your estate. The Palm City probate process for same-sex spouses continues to change as new issues arise with regard to same-sex marriage.
Until 2015, same-sex unions in Florida were not recognized. Then, via its holding in Brenner v. Scott, Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional. That same year, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal for the entire country.
In Palm City, same-sex spouses are now afforded the same rights and obligations as other married couples. As such, the probate process for gay married couples in Martin County is similar to that of heterosexual spouses.
If a same-sex spouse has written a last will and testament, it may be probated in Martin County via the same process as other wills. The Florida Statutes and the Florida Probate Rules provide the guidelines for probating testamentary instruments in Palm City.
Per Fl. Stat. §732.901, the will custodian is required to file the document at the office of the county clerk. The next step in the process is submitting a petition for probate to the local court.
Administrators of the estates of same-sex spouses in Palm City are required to perform a variety of fiduciary tasks, including valuing assets, paying creditors, and distributing gifts in compliance with the terms of the will.
When someone dies without a will, they are said to have died intestate. In Palm City, the procedures for probating intestate assets follow the rules of succession required by law.
Under Fl. Stat. §732.102, the same-sex spouse of the deceased may receive the entire estate if the departed has no living children. Otherwise, the partner may need to share part of the intestate assets with the children of their deceased spouse.
If the surviving spouse has died without a will as an unmarried person, then the decedent’s estate may pass to relatives in the order indicated by the Florida Statutes.
Rather than distributing the entirety of their estate through a will or intestate succession, some same-sex couples in Martin County may choose to gift some of their assets while they are still alive. Because same-sex marriage is recognized in the state, and throughout the country, Palm City spouses of any sexual orientation are afforded similar tax benefits.
By federal law, individuals may gift up to $15,000 per person per year without any gift tax consequences (and there is no limit on gifts made to a spouse). This means that same-sex married couples may jointly deliver gifts of $30,000 or less per year to those they wish to benefit during life. Gifting during life can be an effective way to transfer some wealth easily without probate administration.
Because the changes to state and federal law regarding same-sex marriage are fairly new, there may still be some confusion about the law. Same-sex couples who are conducting estate planning would be well-advised to speak with an experienced probate and estate planning lawyer in Palm City. Contact an attorney today to get started on planning your estate.