Estate Planning for Unmarried and
Same-Sex Couples

Unmarried and same-sex couples do not have the same legal protections as opposite sex married couples.   Although same-sex marriages and civil unions are being recognized in an increasing number of states, none of the over 1,100 federal rights available to opposite sex married couples are available to married same-sex couples or domestic partners.  Here in Florida, if a domestic partner dies or becomes incapacitated, his or her partner will be treated as a legal stranger with no right to inherit property under the intestacy laws and no right to make health care decisions for the incapacitated partner.

Carol can provide advice and prepare the proper documents that will allow you to decide who inherits your property, who will handle your business affairs and who will make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated.

Many same-sex and unmarried couples title their property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship because they think that this will simplify things.  This can be a very dangerous thing to do when one does not understand the many unforeseen consequences that can result.  Carol can analyze your particular situation so that you can decide how to title your property to ensure the results that you intend.

Florida’s Intestacy Law

732.101 Intestate estate
(1) Any part of the estate of a decedent not effectively disposed of by will passes to the decedent’s heirs as prescribed in the following sections of this code.
(2) The decedent’s death is the event that vests the heirs’ right to the decedent’s intestate property.

732.103 Share of other heirs.
The part of the intestate estate not passing to the surviving spouse under s. 732.102, or the entire intestate estate if there is no surviving spouse, descends as follows:
(1) To the lineal descendants of the decedent.
(2) If there is no lineal descendant, to the decedent’s father and mother equally, or to the survivor of them.
3) If there is none of the foregoing, to the decedent's brothers and sisters and the descendants of deceased brothers and sisters.
(4) If there is none of the foregoing, the estate shall be divided, one-half of which shall go to the decedent’s paternal, and the other half to the decedent’s maternal, kindred in the following order:
(a) To the grandfather and grandmother equally, or to the survivor of them.
(b) If there is no grandfather or grandmother, to uncles and aunts and descendants of deceased uncles and aunts of the decedent.
(c) If there is either no paternal kindred or no maternal kindred, the estate shall go to the other kindred who survive, in the order stated above.
(5) If there is no kindred of either part, the whole of the property shall go to the kindred of the last deceased spouse of the decedent as if the deceased spouse had survived the decedent and then died intestate entitled to the estate.