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Estate planning for married same-sex couples

Traditionally, same-sex couples in the state of Florida have faced many hurdles when it came to taxes and estate planning as they could not marry. However, the Obergefell decision cleared the same-sex couples in all states not only to get married but to also have the same benefits as heterosexual couples when it comes to inheritance and estate taxes.

A major tool given to married same-sex couples under the Obergefell decision is the ability of the surviving spouse to renounce their deceased spouse's will. This allows them to take statutory share of the estate. This can help ensure that shared property can belong to the surviving spouse without passing through probate.

It is recommended that married same-sex couples complete an estate plan that includes a Power of Attorney and a health care directive, also known as a living will. These documents essentially allow a spouse to make health or financial-related decisions in the event that the other spouse cannot. Simply being the person's spouse alone does not give the person this right. Additionally, these documents allow a spouse to become a guardian or conservator of the other spouse if they become incapacitated.

If a same-sex couple's marriage was newly-recognized following the Obergefell decision, they should speak with an estate planning attorney to discuss re-titling property so that it is protected in the event of a death. The attorney can also assist with filling out a Power of Attorney in the event that a spouse can no longer make decisions about their own finances or health care. The attorney may also help ensure that all of the essential documents have been completed and properly filed so that the married couple is protected in the event something happens to a spouse.

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