Four Estate Planning Tips For Long-Term Couples Who Are Cohabitating In Florida
A growing share of American couples are cohabitating in long-term relationships without getting married. Indeed, the Pew Research Center reports that 6 in 10 Americans surveyed have lived with a long-term romantic partner outside of marriage. For long-term cohabitating couples, estate planning can be a unique challenge. There are specialized strategies that these couples should take to protect their rights and interests. In this blog post, our Tampa estate planning lawyers highlight five estate planning tips for long-term cohabitating couples in Florida.
- Know the Law: Very Limited Automatic Rights for Cohabitating Partners
To start, it is essential that long-term unmarried couples understand that they have very limited “automatic” rights. In the eyes of the law in Florida, an unmarried partner—even a long-term unmarried partner that lives in the same household—is not considered to be “next-of-kin.” You need to keep this in mind: If you want your unmarried partner to be part of your estate plan, you need to proactively include them within your estate plan documents.
- A Comprehensive and Personalized Estate Plan is Especially Important
As a consequence of the limited automatic rights for unmarried couples, it is especially important that cohabitating couples have a comprehensive and personalized estate plan in place. Ultimately, estate planning is about protecting your future, your finances, and your family. With a well-designed estate plan, you and your partner can find true peace and security. Along with other types of estate planning documents, you may need:
- A will;
- A trust;
- Power of attorney; and
- A living will.
- Beneficiary Designations Should Be Reviewed and Updated
Certain assets can pass through a beneficiary designation. For example, imagine that you have a 401(k) account for your retirement savings. That account does not need to go through the probate process. If you have up-to-date beneficiary designations, the proceeds of that account can pass directly to your selected beneficiary—including your long-term partner. Make sure that all of your beneficiary designations are reviewed and are fully up-to-date.
- Do Not Overlook Incapacity Planning, Including Health Care Decision-Making
Finally, it is crucial that unmarried couples do not overlook the importance of incapacity planning. Remember, your automatic rights in regards to each other are very limited under Florida law. If you want your partner to have the ability to manage your financial/legal affairs in the event that you are not able to do so—or to make health care decisions on your behalf in the same circumstance—you need to assign them your power of attorney and/or health care power of attorney.
Schedule Your Confidential Consultation With a Tampa, FL Estate Planning Attorney
At Strategic Counsel Law Group, L.C., our Tampa estate planning lawyers have the skills and experience that you can rely on. If you are part of a long-term cohabiting couple and you have questions about estate planning, we are here to help. Contact our estate planning team today to set up your strictly confidential initial appointment. From our Tampa office, we provide estate planning services all over the region, including in Hillsborough County and Pinellas County.