Florida Must Recognize Delaware Same-Sex Marriage in Probate Case

Florida Must Recognize Delaware Same-Sex Marriage in Probate Case

A south Florida judge ruled in a probate case that the state of Florida must honor the marriage of a Pennsylvania man whose husband died in Florida. The ruling enables Jason Simpson to be the personal representative for the estate of his husband, Frank Bangor, who passed away earlier this year.

Simpson and Bangor were together for 37 years before getting married in Delaware in October 2013. Pennsylvania legalized same-sex marriage shortly after Bangor’s death, and the judge ruled that based on the legality of the marriage in both Delaware and Pennsylvania, Florida’s anti-same-sex marriage laws would be discriminatory against Simpson.

Simpson and Bangor bought a home in South Florida in 2008, and only put Bangor’s name on the deed so that it would be easier to get a bank mortgage. This is the reason the estate had to go through probate, and why there was controversy surrounding whether or not Simpson would be allowed to be the representative for Bangor’s estate.

Florida law complicated matters, as the law changes based on whether the person in question is a resident or nonresident. Any adult Florida resident can be the personal representative for someone else if physically and mentally capable and if they do not have a felony history. However, nonresidents must be spouse, sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or other blood relative to the decedent. Because Florida does not recognize same-sex marriage, it was originally ruled that Simpson could not act as personal representative.

This latest decision is another sign that same-sex marriage laws in Florida are beginning to move in the same direction we’ve seen across the country.

If you have questions about estate planning for same-sex couples in Florida, speak with a knowledgeable Tampa attorney with the law office of Philip A. Baumann, P.A.