As a practicing estate planning attorney in Florida for over 40 years, I’ve prepared a large number of estate plans on my clients’ behalf. Many of my clients were born and raised in Florida. Some of them were born and raised in other states. A number of them already had estate plans prepared for them before relocating to Florida. Some of my clients are ‘snowbirds,’ living in one state during the summer months and in Florida during the winter. It’s not unusual for them to have assets, including houses, in both states.
One of the questions I’m often asked during our interview is how Florida estate planning law is different from the law in the state in which their documents were prepared. Their main concerns are whether or not the out of state estate plan is valid in Florida. Are they required to prepare a completely new set of estate planning documents?
What Is The Purpose of Estate Planning?
A properly prepared estate plan ensures your assets are distributed to the people you designate upon your death according to your specific instructions. It can also successfully avoid the probate process.
As part of the preparation process, we discuss the following questions:
- What are your assets and liabilities?
- Whom do you wish to appoint as their personal representative?
- Whom do you wish to appoint as alternative personal representatives?
- To whom do you wish to leave your assets and in what amount.
- Have you ever executed any prior estate planning documents?
- What type of documents did you execute?
- In which state were they executed?
If the client has minor children, we also counsel them on the benefits of creating a revocable living trust for them to protect their assets until they reach the age of majority.
What Documents Are Included In An Estate Plan In Florida?
- A Last Will and Testament
- A Revocable or Irrevocable Trust
- A Durable Power of Attorney
- A Health Care Surrogate document
- A Living Will
Are Estate Plans Created In Other States Valid in Florida?
- Just about every State has estate planning differences in one way or another.
- Florida accepts any will as valid if it was valid under the laws of the state in which it was executed. There are, however, exceptions to this rule.
- Military wills created under federal law are valid.
- A handwritten will (holographic will) is not valid unless it meets all of the requirements of a standard will.
- An oral will (nuncupative will) is not valid in Florida.
- Wills written in a foreign language is only valid if a true copy written in English is attached.
How Florida Estate Planning Law Is Different
- As opposed to Florida, California provides its citizens with a fill-in-the-blank will template that’s valid if completed correctly.
- Florida and only a few other states recognize Enhanced Life Estate Deeds, also known as Lady Bird Deeds.
- Unlike other states, Florida doesn’t recognize transferable upon death (TOD).
- Motor vehicle titles.
- The Florida Constitution grants a surviving spouse a 30% share of the deceased spouse’s estate.
- Springing powers of attorney are not valid in Florida.
- Homestead Laws are different in Florida than they are in most other states.
The bottom line is this. If you relocate to Florida from another state you should have an experienced estate planning attorney review your documents to ensure they comply with Florida Laws.
Discussing Estate Planning Laws & How They Differ in Florida
For this or any other legal questions regarding estate planning, contact the law offices of Gary I. Handin today at (954) 796-9600. Schedule an appointment to discuss your estate plan and, if prepared out of state, whether or not it is valid in Florida.