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Estate Planning Basics – Does My Will Carry Across Other States?

Estate Planning Basics

Retiring in the Sunshine State is a dream come true for many people. The hassle of transferring documents like your driver’s license, bank information, and voter registration, make it common for new residents to overlook changes they may need to make to guarantee their will carries across state lines.

Typically, if your will was legal in your original state of residence, it will remain legal in Florida and carry across all other states. But there are specific provisions that must comply with Florida real estate law. By making sure your estate plan follows Florida law, you will prevent a partially or entirely voided will.

While all states requiring the person writing the will to be 18 years old, there are certain exclusions.

Property Laws

Property laws vary by state, so it’s especially important to review your estate plan if you’re moving from a common-law property state to a community-law property state. Florida is a common-law property state.

  • Community-Law Property States

    Assets and property owned by either spouse are owned as a marital unit. States include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

  • Common-Law Property States

    Assets and property owned by either spouse are owned individually. This includes Florida and all other states not mentioned above.

    Be sure to make the appropriate changes to your will if your former state was a community law property state to ensure that your spouse will receive all intended assets and property.

Types Of Wills

There are many types of wills recognized throughout the U.S., but certain states do not recognize specific wills as valid. Two types of wills that do not carry across to Florida are nuncupative and holographic wills.

  • Nuncupative Wills

    Also known as oral wills, nuncupative wills are spoken in front of two or more witnesses usually by someone who is too ill to complete a written will. The witnesses then write out the will to give to probate court shortly after the testator’s death. Less than half of states in the U.S. accept this as a legal will.

  • Holographic Wills

    This is a handwritten will that in many states must also be signed and dated by the testator. Because a holographic will is not signed by witnesses, it is much harder to prove the will’s validity in probate court. Often, it will be left up to descendants or handwriting experts to determine.

Self-Proving Affidavit

A self-proving affidavit is a supplementary document made under oath that you sign yourself and is witnessed in front of a notary who authorizes your will as a legal document. This is used as evidence as to the validity of your will in probate court and how it carries across states.

Different states have different rules about self-proving affidavits that may result in it being much harder to prove you are the true testator. For example, California does not require a self-proving affidavit to accompany your will to be proven in probate court. But if you move to Florida without a self-proving will, probate becomes longer and more expensive. Because not only will it have to be proven the will is yours, it’s almost always necessary to locate the original witnesses to help prove the validity.

Having a valid will in any state is important to guarantee your property is distributed properly, but it’s also important to make sure your will carries across to other states in the event you relocate. Due to Florida having specific property laws, it’s crucial to hire a trusted estate planning lawyer like Gary I. Handin to help you cover the basics. Call us today at 1-877-815-4560 to take the steps to guarantee your will is valid!

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Gary I. Handin, P.A.

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