If you are moving to Florida or relocating to a new state, there are many items on your to-do list. Packing, changing car titles, scheduling your moving truck, and many other essential details on your checklist. But, is your estate plan on there too?
While moving to a new state doesn’t automatically mean you have to shred up the old plan and create a new one, it is critical that your trust, will, or advanced directives comply with the laws of your new locale. Florida is one of many states that recognizes the validity of a will that is valid in its own state unless it’s holographic (handwritten) or verbally recorded. In addition to compliance issues, it never hurts to reevaluate your estate plan after moving and then updating it if needed.
Because every state has its own requirements when executing a will, you should compare laws in Florida and that of the other state regarding your estate. Typically, these are valid in states other than where they were created for the most part, but that doesn’t mean this acceptance is automatic.
Consider some of the following areas of a will that you should double-check for compliance:
Florida requires an out-of-state individual serving as an executor to be related to the decedent through one of three ways: marriage, blood, or adoption. This means that while the probate court will accept your will, the judge will appoint a different executor if they don’t meet these requirements. In Florida, a nonresident executor must be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption.
Every state has some form of a homestead law that protects your home from creditors to some extent. If you are moving to Florida from a state that provides complete protection, you may be in for a shock. The Sunshine State provides some protection for heirs when creditors pursue the decedent’s estate for owed debts, but only under certain circumstances. Foreclosures and association fees do not fall under this protection and could still force payment through selling your home.
Generally, a revocable living trust legally created in one state is the same in another. Things could potentially get challenging if you moved from a state with both inheritance taxes and the federal estate tax and still have property there, which is part of your trust. Even though Florida doesn’t charge residents an inheritance tax, your loved ones could still be liable for property owned in other states.
Additionally, property laws from one state to another could impact your living trust, including state statutes regarding marital assets. This is why reviewing your estate plan with the help of a skilled attorney is wise after relocating.
Much like trusts, Florida recognizes the validity of advanced directives legally executed in another state, but this is just half of the issue. While your durable powers of attorneys and advanced health care directives will be recognized, it doesn’t mean that the institutions presented with them will immediately cooperate. Every state has its own legal forms for these essential documents, and a doctor or bank that your chosen executor tries to do business with sees your out-of-state power of attorney; they may not accept it at face value.
In fact, under Florida law, they can require a legal review of the document at your expense to determine if it is valid in the state it was executed. You may want to seriously consider drafting new versions that match your new state’s law because of these situations.
Finally, make sure that your various financial accounts and life insurance policies with pay-on-death or transfer-on-death designations are up-to-date. While they aren’t directly affected by your move to another state, they have your personal information on them, including your old address, which needs to be updated to your new one.
Moving to a new state is a significant life change that warrants giving your estate plan a thorough review and update with an experienced attorney’s assistance. Not only will a lawyer be familiar with state probate laws, but they can assess if your current strategy is adequate for your current circumstances.
Even if you are confident that your estate won’t be affected by your move, ensuring your executor and beneficiaries’ contact information is accurate should be prioritized. You should also consider if you want to go ahead and include your new home in it and reconsider who you have given power of attorney to and other related issues. It’s common for families to treat estate plans like a one-time event and forget about it once created, but this can lead to a lot of frustration, heartache, and expense later. Should you pass away without adding in new grandchildren, removing an ex-spouse, or changing how you want certain assets distributed, your estate plan is essentially out-of-date and will leave Florida probate to settle any issues that arise.
Creating a new home in a different state is exciting and requires careful attention to detail, including your estate plan. A significant milestone like a new baby or move can often distract us from its impact on a will or living trust. Consulting with a knowledgeable Florida attorney about your will or trust and its validity in the Sunshine State should be a top priority.
The Legacy Law Firm attorneys have years of experience helping families relocating to Florida by ensuring their estate plans continue to provide the asset protection and legacies their loved ones need. We help you make informed decisions about meeting state probate laws best and review your trust or will for any areas that need updating based on your current life circumstances. Call us today at (954) 999-9683 or contact us online to discuss your unique situation, learn more, and get started.
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