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Articles Posted in Estate Planning

One reason some people develop estate plans is to deal with possible estate taxes.  The need for this kind of planning was reduced for most people when the estate tax exemption was increased to $11.58 million per person in 2018, but there are other important things you can accomplish with estate planning for your spouse and children (There is the possibility also that the exemption amount could be reduced — it was $5.4 million in 2017, $3.5 million in 2009, and $1 million in 2003.  Although $1 million is a large amount, it is an asset amount many couples reach in their lifetimes if you include the value of a home and each spouse’s retirement account).

A common plan for couples is for the couple’s assets to go to the surviving spouse/partner if one of you dies.  Often that’s what you’d want – for the assets to go to the survivor so that he or she is well taken care of, and for them to then do what’s best for the children. 

One issue in Florida family law that can cause a problem is what is called “commingling” of assets.  If your spouse receives assets when you pass away, later remarries and ends up putting any marital funds from the new marriage into the same account with the inherited money, all of the inherited funds can be then converted to marital funds.  This could be fine in many circumstances – the surviving spouse continues providing for him or herself and the children, but a problem arises if the spouse then gets divorced.  Half of these marital funds, including half of the inherited money can go to the new spouse as part of the divorce.  This will be the default result under Florida law that can be difficult to avoid if the inherited funds have not been kept separate.  It is a result that both spouses in doing their estate planning, and probably especially the surviving spouse at the time of a future divorce, would not want

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