Continuing our discussion from the previous blog entry regarding the lack of estate planning and property rights that unmarried domestic partners have under Florida law, we will cover what happens if you fail to draft a legally valid will or die without first creating a will pursuant to the Florida laws of intestate succession.
If you are in a domestic partnership with another individual, but you are still legally married to your opposite-gender spouse, your spouse will receive your entire estate if you die without lineal descendants. If lineal descendants survive you, and they are also the descendants of your spouse, your surviving spouse receives the first $60,000 of your estate and half of any remainder. The remaining assets within your estate go to you and your spouse’s descendants. If you are survived by lineal descendants who are unrelated to your spouse, your spouse receives half of your estate and the other half goes to your descendants.
Nowhere in the state’s laws of intestate succession does your unmarried partner have a legal entitlement to any portion of your intestate estate. Thus, to leave your estate to your unmarried partner, you must draft a will providing for such. However, if you are still married and you leave dependents, these individuals are entitled to elective shares in most situations. You must legally divorce your former spouse or obtain a legal separation to ensure he or she does not receive any intestate or testate rights to your estate.