Although same-sex marriage is now legal in all states including Florida, you and your partner may choose to remain unmarried. In that case, it is important to understand how to approach estate planning so that you may ensure your partner has certain rights and privileges after you pass away. Here at The Law Office of Nicole C. Morris, P.A., we have helped many same-sex couples go through the estate planning process.
If you and your partner want to have control over things such as inheritances and medical decisions, the best thing to do is to create the appropriate legal documents. While the law gives spouses certain rights automatically, many of those rights do not transfer to your romantic partner unless you create official documentation giving him or her authority. By planning ahead, you may ensure that you and your partner are able to visit each other in a hospital, share financial assets and make funeral arrangements.
There are several options you and your partner may decide to pursue during the estate planning process. For example, you may want to create an irrevocable trust that allows you to pass financial assets and avoid certain tax liabilities. You may also be able to set up an annual gifting plan that allows you to give money to your partner in a way that avoids certain taxes. Signing a burial cremation affidavit allows your partner the right to handle your cremated remains. Another possibility is an authorization form that allows you and your partner to visit each other in the hospital. If you want to create a contract similar to a prenuptial agreement, you may work together to author a domestic partnership agreement.
Same-sex couples who choose not to marry may plan for financial gifts and medical authorization through comprehensive estate planning. More information about this topic is available on our web page.