For married couples in Florida who want to craft an estate plan, there are several vital estate planning issues that you need to approach in a way slightly different than your single counterparts. Estate planning issues are never easy to decide, but when you are married, there is the added element of having to make the decision as part of a partnership. As you and your spouse go about the estate planning process, it’s vital that you have open communication between yourself, your attorney, and anyone else you decide to consult as you make your decisions. If you are married, or are considering getting married, here are some issues you will want to consider.
Estate Planning Issue for Married Couples. Spousal Inheritance Rights
When people get married, they earn the automatic right to inherit from one another. Unlike other inheritance rights, this one cannot be disinherited. For example, if you are married and make a last will and testament, you cannot disinherit your spouse by choosing not to leave that person an inheritance. If you make a will that ignores your spouse’s inheritance rights, your spouse will still be entitled to receive a portion of your estate, while the laws of the state of Florida determine the size of the inheritance to which each spouse is entitled.
On the other hand, if you are in the situation in which both spouses feel comfortable with their financial position and do not feel the need to inherit from one another, you can choose to waive your spousal inheritance rights. By doing this you give yourself the ability to leave larger inheritances for others.
If, however, you are unsure of your financial position and believe that you need to receive an inheritance from your spouse in the future, you can make an estate plan suited to your needs.
Estate Planning Issue for Married Couples – Representatives
An estate plan will require you to choose one or more people to serve as a representative. These representatives gain authority when, for example, you become incapacitated and need others to make decisions for you. Many people choose their spouse to serve as their representative, but this isn’t always a wise choice. In some situations your spouse might not have the ability to make decisions on your behalf, and you might want to choose someone who is younger or healthier.
Estate Planning Issue for Married Couples – Guardians
If you have minor children, the plan you and your spouse craft has to address the question of who you want to care for those children in the event both of you become incapacitated or die. You need to think about what qualities are important for a guardian to have, who amongst your relatives or friends has those qualities, and then make a selection, as well as an alternate, upon which you both agree.