Getting re-married? Congratulations! But before you go on your honeymoon you may want to consider your estate plan. If you are not getting married for the first time and you have children, there are two main reasons why you should be concerned about your estate and how your loved ones may be affected: homestead rights and Spousal Elective Share.
Florida’s homestead laws can be confusing but with the help of an estate planning attorney, there are ways you and your loved ones can benefit from knowing your homestead rights and plan accordingly. In order for your home to qualify as protected homestead in Florida you must meet three criteria: 1.) you must have title to the home on January 1st in the year you apply, 2.) you must live at the residence as your permanent home, and 3.) you must apply for the homestead exemption between January 1st and March 1st, except for new homestead applications, which must be filed prior to January 1st.
Obtaining homestead status is important because it can provide creditor protection, save you money on real estate taxes, and will affect who will inherit your home after you are gone. For example, If you die during the course of your second marriage (and the property is titled in your and your second wife’s name) and you leave adult children behind, then your second wife will receive the property and your adult children will have no rights to the property.
Similarly, you may not want to leave a significant portion of your estate to your second spouse. Instead you intend to leave your assets to your children from your first marriage. Unless you and your current spouse signed a pre or post nuptial agreement, this situation will be difficult because of what’s known as a spouse’s elective share. A spousal elective share gives your current spouse (presuming you died first) the right to collect 30% of your total estate value not limited to probate assets. An effective estate plan will help you avoid unintended consequences in either situation.