Are You Leaving Chaos For Your Significant Other If You’re Not Married?
By: Cristin Gerczak, Esq.
December 1, 2020
Did you know that without an estate plan, your live-in life-long significant other won’t receive any portion of your estate assets if you aren’t married in the eyes of the law? Not even if it is your intent for them to receive some or all of your assets.
That without an estate plan your significant other may not be the one appointed to be the guardian of your minor children? Not even if it is your intent for them to care for your children if you’re no longer with us.
If it isn’t in writing, you and your significant other don’t have the right protection.
Who Your Assets Automatically Go to If You Aren’t Married to Your Partner
Without an estate plan in place, your assets will pass following the intestacy laws. This means that your property (your assets, your estate) will pass to specific people in your family as outlined by Florida law — whether or not you would have wanted them to inherit the property.
The order in which the property passes can be found in section 732 of the Florida Statutes. Essentially, if you don’t leave behind a spouse (and a life-long, significant other does not have the same rights as a spouse), the order in which your estate will pass is:
- To your children, equally;
- If you do not have children, to your parents, equally, or the survivor if one has already passed away;
- If neither of your parents are living, then to your siblings, equally, and / or the children of any deceased siblings;
- If none of the above have survived you, then half will go to your mother’s side and half to your father’s side of the family in the following order:
- Aunts/Uncles and / or the children of any deceased aunts/uncles;
- If none, other kin;
- If none of the above survived you, then the kin of the last deceased spouse as if that spouse survived you and then died without a will;
- If none of the above, then to the state.
As you can see, long-term partners are not included on that list unless you are legally married. But they’re not the only ones…
Who Else Is Automatically Excluded — and How to Plan to Protect Everyone You Love
The children of the person you loved and lived with — whether or not you were married — are also excluded from intestacy laws. This is why it is important to consider estate planning and make sure your intentions for the distribution of your assets are in writing in order to take care of those you love.
When it comes to your minor or disabled children, it is important to designate someone of your choosing, and worthy of your trust, to care for and be the guardian of those children if you pass away.
A live-in significant other who serves as another parent to your minor children does not automatically have a right to become their guardian. There must be an estate plan in place. This is important because if you do not designate someone for this responsibility, the courts may not always choose a person you would have wanted.
Life for the live-in life-long significant others that you may leave behind will be much easier if an estate plan has been created. It is not a long process, and it will be worth the time for the peace of mind for everyone involved.
Cristin Gerczak, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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