Estate Planning Tips For Unmarried Couples In Tampa: Part 2
In the previous blog post, our authors discussed estate planning for unmarried couples without children. In this post, we will discuss additional caveats and considerations for couples with children.
All advice previously discussed does pertain to couples with children, including the completion of a healthcare power of attorney. This also includes a thorough review of assets and liabilities and the possibility of naming the unmarried partner as custodian of financial accounts or joining them to bank and investment accounts as an authorized user. When minor children are welcomed to the family, unmarried couples must review their estate plan together.
Blended Family Estate Planning Considerations.
Previous blog posts have discussed the importance of nominating a guardian for minor children in a last will and testament. When two parents are married, both parents are presumed to be the biological parents of minor children born to them during the marriage. However, when a couple is unmarried, the father is not presumed to be the biological father unless he indicates this on the child’s birth certificate, or files an affidavit of parentage (sometimes referred to as acknowledgement of paternity). If the parents have no intentions to be married, it is highly recommended that the father file an affidavit of parentage to establish his legal rights as father of the minor children. Both parents must execute the form in the presence of two witnesses for it to be valid. Without this crucial step, if the mother were to pass away, the father would not automatically be granted custody.
Similarly, if two unmarried partners decide to adopt a child, both parents should be listed as legal parents on the child’s adoption documentation. Otherwise, if one parent perishes, the other parent is not automatically granted parenting rights as a de facto parent. De facto parenthood is recognized in neighboring jurisdictions, but not in Florida. In addition, sometimes a stepparent may consider legally adopting a stepchild, especially if the child’s other legal parent is no longer living. Even if adoption is not on the table, many step parents wish for a stepchild to inherit, and this should be reflected in a blended estate plan.
Establishing a Child’s Right to Inherit
Historically, children born to parents out of wedlock could not inherit from their father, even if he indicated this in his last will and testament. Thankfully, this is no longer the case in Florida and other states. However, parents of minor children should state explicitly what they intend for their children to inherit upon their death in their will. Even better, a revocable trust can name the child as the intended beneficiary of assets placed into the trust, removing probate administration from the equation. Even if a child is not formally adopted, anyone can be named a beneficiary to assets in a trust if the settlor indicates this in writing and if the trust is formally opened and managed by a qualified trustee. Adoption by stepparent can limit a child’s right to inherit from biological parent or biological parents family.
Contact Tampa Blended Family Attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group, L.C.
Here at Strategic Counsel Law Group, we recognize that no two families look the same. Many couples are unmarried, or divorced with children from previous marriages. Or, perhaps an unmarried couple is considering adoption and wants to discuss how this affects life insurance and estate plans. Our Tampa estate planning attorneys are available to provide comprehensive blended estate planning to all our clients.