Happy Valentine’s Day!

Anne-mooreBefore you pop the question, make sure you have considered all of the ramifications of marriage on your estate planning.  For example, you and your sweetheart have children from previous marriages.  You own a house in Florida and your sweetheart owns a house in New England.  You both are residents of Florida because there is not State income tax and, let’s face it, its nicer here in the winter!

The plan is that your sweetheart will leave the New England property to his/her children and you will leave the Florida home to your children.  Sounds sensible, right?  BUT Florida will not recognize the provision in your Will to cut your spouse out of inheriting at least a life estate in your Florida homestead.  You can draft your Will to cut your spouse out, but if your spouse contests it, your spouse is entitled to a life estate.  Which means your kids can’t sell the house or even live in it while your spouse is still alive and living in the home (even if your spouse spends months in the house in New England).

Before you marry, or even after you marry, your spouse can waive his/her right to inherit your homestead, but that waiver is entirely voluntary and not every spouse is going to be so gracious.

This is but one of the implications of marriage in Florida upon your estate plans.

Word of advice – Before you pop the question, see an Estate Planning attorney so you at least go into it with your eyes (as well as your heart) open!