Do you have to be married in order to be entitled to a partner’s estate?
The answer is yes. The law does not, at this time provide that if you have cohabitated or are in relationship with someone, and you are not married to them, the law does not protect you when they pass away. They treat you as if you are a stranger and therefore you are entitled to no benefits. If you’re married, the law does provide that you’re entitled to certain rights. One is called an elective share; or if there’s no will, you’re entitled to certain benefits, depending on whether or not there’s any children or not. If there’s no children of the decedent, and you’re married to them, then you’re entitled to the entire estate.
Also, this has an effect on your real estate. If it’s your homestead property, as to whether you’re married or not, if you are married you have certain rights in the homestead. If the property is titled in the decedent. If you’re not married, you have no standing, or what we call standing, or right to make any claims against your partner’s estate. So if you – my suggestion is is that you need to set up a will conference or an estate planning conference to address the situation; and that I’ve seen this in the past, where someone’s been together for many years and they’ve lived as husband as wife, and then one of them passes away and they get nothing even though they’ve lived together.
Florida does not recognize common law marriages and that, unless they were established I think before 1964 or ’68. So rarely do you see a common law – I’ve never seen a common law marriage recognized in Florida.
So if you have any questions or like to do some estate planning, that’s the best way to handle it. My phone number is 727-847-2288.