It may be important for unmarried couples in Florida who live together to create estate plans to ensure that they have certain rights that are granted automatically to married people. First, each person should have a health care power of attorney that authorizes the other person to make medical decisions. This reduces the likelihood of a battle with family members for this authority if one person falls ill.
Another error commonly made by unmarried couples is sharing a home when only one person is on the title. Even if both have paid for the mortgage, if there is no mechanism in place to transfer the home to the other person, such as a will or joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, the other person could be forced to move on the owner’s death. This might be the case with all assets if a person has not prepared a will or a trust. With no estate plan, the state will distribute assets to next of kin, and the unmarried partner would be left out entirely.
It can be difficult to start a conversation about estate planning, but it is an important one to have. An attorney may be able to assist in preparing the necessary documents. People may also want to inform family and friends of the role the partner will play in the estate plan.
Married couples or people who do not have a partner should not think that they do not need an estate plan. An estate plan is still necessary to ensure that the right people are chosen to make financial and medical decisions on a person’s behalf as necessary and that assets are distributed according to a person’s wishes. Wills and other estate planning documents that are created with the help of an attorney might be less likely to contain errors and thus less vulnerable to challenges.