With the New Year, 2023, underway, are you making plans to remarry? Do your plans include when and where to marry, bringing your families together to celebrate and finding the best place to live? How about your Florida estate plan? Did you know that remarriage and estate planning can work hand in hand?
In a first marriage, the goals of each spouse are typically aligned: take care of the surviving spouse for as long as he or she lives, and then divide what is left equally among the children. Also, if your children are still minors, you set up a trust for your children until they are adults. Now, this planning makes sense because most couples jointly own their assets but this is not necessarily the case when dealing with remarriage and estate planning.
In a subsequent marriage or when marrying later in life or after amassing significant wealth, the goals may not be so perfectly aligned, and the previous methods for estate planning may not work as well. Let’s consider this, you decide to put your new spouse on the title of your home, so it is now considered jointly owned with the right of survivorship. When you pass away, the home becomes the property of your spouse, without restriction, however, there may be no guarantee that he or she will pass it along to your children from a prior relationship.
A good tip would be to consider planning separately when remarrying and creating your estate plan, especially if you or your soon-to-be spouse have significant assets. Be sure, though, to make this decision together. In fact, have an honest conversation about your individual estate planning goals. If your goals are sufficiently similar, then you may be able to plan jointly. If they are significantly different, consider having separate attorneys.
Another issue, and a tip to remember, in regard to estate planning and remarriage in Florida involves Florida’s law regarding homestead property. In Florida, a married person cannot leave the homestead to anyone other than his or her spouse. Doing otherwise results in the spouse at least receiving a life estate interest in the homestead property and possibly receiving an entire interest in the homestead, depending on whether there are living descendants. This can be very significant because, assuming the home qualifies as a “homestead,” a surviving spouse is entitled to inherit the home, regardless of an attempt to leave it to another beneficiary in the will.
Another tip, consider naming a trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance. The trust can allow you to control when and to whom monies are distributed, so that you can provide for your spouse during his or her lifetime, and yet keep control over the proceeds. The trust can also protect your spouse from irresponsible spending, creditors, predators, and even estate taxes.
Our office can help guide a family through long-term care planning for aging parents and loved ones. At David H. Jacoby Elder Law Advocate, P. A., we are focused on providing thorough, ethical, and timely solutions for our clients and their loved ones. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.