Love Means Nothing to a Tennis Player, Estate Rights of Florida Spouse

Jessica Schultheis

by Jessica Schultheis

Jessica Schultheis is a former attorney with My Pink Lawyer®, now an Assistant State Attorney in Pensacola, Florida. Jessica graduated from the University of Florida for both her undergraduate studies and law school.


Tennis is probably my favorite hobby. I play on a few different leagues and try to practice whenever I have free time. But sleeping in is another favorite hobby of mine, so when my boyfriend wanted to play tennis early on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago, I was less than enthused.

My boyfriend is also just learning how to play tennis, so I knew my patience was going to be wearing thin. But I reluctantly agreed, and we went to the courts to hit for about an hour.

As we were picking up the tennis balls, he called me over and said that one of the tennis balls “looked really weird.” I may have snapped at him and told him to just bring it to me, but he insisted I walk over and look at it. He held out the tennis ball, and I noticed a clasp on it. He popped open the tennis ball, and my late grandmother’s gorgeous diamond ring was inside.

I almost fainted as he got down on one knee to propose.

My little sister and her boyfriend came running out from the bushes with streamers and confetti flying everywhere. It was perfect and a complete surprise.

So now we are in the throes of wedding planning. What venue? What date? Band or DJ? The questions are endless.

One question we have not considered, however, is whether to sign a pre-nuptial agreement.

Many people may think of a pre-nuptial agreement as a harsh and unloving request. However, in some situations, it can be a really smart and practical thing for Florida women in their estate planning.

Many couples need to understand the benefits and protections that a pre-nuptial agreement can provide.

Once married, there are guaranteed estate rights of a Florida spouse. In other words, your spouse becomes entitled to a large portion of your property upon your death under Florida law.

For example, a surviving spouse is entitled to the homestead (a married couple’s house they reside in) for the rest of his or her life. The home cannot be given to anyone else, regardless of what the deceased spouse’s will says.

A surviving spouse is also entitled to 30% of their deceased spouse’s estate.

Unless provided for differently in a will, a surviving spouse also will get the household furniture, furnishings, and appliances up to $20,000, and also two motor vehicles owned by the deceased spouse.

Now these entitlements are fine for some married couples that want their spouse to basically inherit all of their property when they pass away.

But what if it’s your second marriage and you have children from your first marriage? Maybe you want some or all of your property to go to them. After all, there is no guarantee your surviving spouse will provide for your children from your first marriage.

The only way these spousal rights can be waived is through a written agreement between both spouse, such as a pre- or post-nuptial agreement.

It’s definitely something to think about during marriage planning that can help your estate planning in the future.

For my fiancé and me, we are not considering a pre-nuptial agreement since it is our first marriage and neither of us have kids.

So for right now, we will stick to an easier kind of agreement, like whether or not to smash cake into each other’s faces during the cake cutting!

To learn more about whether a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement might be right for your situation, download our free book now.


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