Rights Of A Significant Other}
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Submitted by: Cristin Silliman
Did you know, that without a will, your live-in, life-long, significant other wont receive any portion of your estate if you arent married in the eyes of the law? Not even if it is your intention for them to receive some or all of your assets. Did you know, that without a will, your significant other may not be the one appointed to be the guardian of your minor children? Not even if it is your intention for them to be. If it isnt in writing, you and your significant other dont have the right protection.
Without a will, your assets will pass following the intestacy laws, meaning your property, your assets, your estate, will pass to certain people in your family whether you would have wanted them to have the property or not. The order in which the property passes can be found in section 732 of the Florida Statutes. Basically, if you dont leave behind a spouse, (and a life-long, significant other does not have the same rights as a spouse) here is the order in which an estate will pass: 1. To your kids; 2. If none, to your mom & dad equally, or the survivor if one has already passed away; 3. If no parents are left, then to your brothers & sisters &/or the kids of deceased siblings; 4. If none of the above have survived you, then will go to your moms side & to your dads side of the family in the following order: 1. Grandparents; 2. Aunts/Uncles & kids of deceased aunts/uncles; 3. If none, other kin; 5. If none of the above survived you, then the kin of the last deceased spouse as if that spouse survived you & then died intestate; 6. Kids of great grandparents, but there are restrictions in the statute; 7. And lastly if none of the above then to the state.
As you can see, people that, for all intents and purposes, may as well have been your spouse even though you werent legally married are not on that list. The children of the person you loved and had lived with, whether or not you were married, are not on that list. This is why it is important to consider estate planning and make sure your estate, your property, gets where it belongs.
When it comes to your minor children, it is important to designate someone of your choosing and worthy of your trust to care for and be the guardian of, if something were to happen to you. A live-in significant other, who for all intents and purposes is another parent to your minor children, do not automatically have the right to become their guardian, which is why its important to put it in writing. This is important because if you do not designate someone for this responsibility, the courts will do it for you, and the courts may not always choose a person you would have wanted. Often times courts are more inclined to give guardianship to a relative and not the significant other who truly deserves it, however, sometimes in the long run, the courts may ending up appointing your significant other to be their guardian, but that decision will be a lot quicker, cheaper and more easily made if you put your intentions in writing before something happens.
Life for the live-in, life-long, significant others that you may leave behind will be much easier if a will has been created. It doesnt take long and it will be worth it for the peace of mind for everyone involved.
About the Author: Cristin Silliman is the owner of The Legacy Law Firm, LLC.