For those of you who are married and have not had your own Will or Living Trust prepared, the Florida Legislature has just changed your “Will”. The bill was sent to the Governor for his signature on June 13th and was signed in June 21st.
Previously, your government-made “default will” provided that if you are survived by a spouse and children of that spouse, the surviving spouse would receive the first $60,000 of your estate and then one-half (½) of the remaining estate. The other half (½) would be divided equally among your children (or their descendants). That now has been changed. In the traditional marriage situation, where all of the decedent’s surviving children are also the children of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse now receives one hundred percent (100%) of your estate (providing the surviving spouse has no children or grandchildren [descendants] from another relationship).
This change in the “default will” does bring the state’s version of estate planning more in line with the typical choices of married couples. Most married couples do choose to leave everything to their surviving spouse.
In cases of second marriages and/or blended families, the State’s “default will” remains unchanged. Fifty percent (50%) of the estate goes to the surviving spouse and the other fifty percent (50%) is divided equally among the decedent’s lineal descendants (children/grandchildren). This new law does not have any effect on Florida’s current elective share, homestead, exempt property or family allowance provisions.
So, if you like the Will the Florida legislature has prepared for you, stand pat. If you’d like to make your own choices and/or learn how the laws mentioned in the previous paragraph affect your “default will”, call us…we can help.