Estate planning for Florida couples in the wake of legalized same-sex marriage

The recognition of same-sex marriage may mean the need to update an estate plan.

Florida recently joined the growing number of states in recognizing the legal validity of same-sex marriage. The rights associated with legal marriage are numerous, but Florida same-sex couples must still carefully review their financial and legal documentation before and after tying the knot to ensure their legal rights and estate matters are in the condition they desire.

Revisiting or creating an estate plan

Every married couple benefits from a comprehensive estate plan. Still, an estate plan provides legal, financial and medical benefits not available under state law. Florida's recognition of same-sex marriage allows a spouse to visit in the hospital, for example. However, a living will can provide clear direction to a spouse and doctors how medical care should be approached in the event one spouse becomes unable to communicate those preferences directly. While a spouse has direction over the medical care of the other in the event of incapacitation, a living will can provide comfort and direction to a spouse and avoid family conflict.

A thorough review of financial and estate planning documents needed

The above examples are just a few of the issues that may arise depending on the assets of the married couple. Legal and financial considerations exist over and above estate planning needs. In the past, many committed same-sex partners used cohabitation agreements in lieu of prenuptial agreements. While premarital agreements are a very good option for many same-sex couples looking to marry, previous cohabitation agreements may be outdated. And it may not be wise or appropriate to rely on state law should a future split occur.

While marriage equality has come to Florida, that does not mean all married couples have equal estate planning needs. Florida same-sex couples who wish to update their estate planning documents or create a comprehensive estate plan tailored to their needs - and Florida law - should contact Korshak & Associates, P.A., to discuss their legal and financial options.

Keywords: Estate planning, same-sex marriage, health care directive, living will, prenuptial agreement,