With the completion of the once-in-a-decade census, Florida has once again grown in population. Thanks to year-round warm weather, low taxes, and low cost of living, people move to Florida in droves. Many people overlook whether their previous preparations for estate planning will still be valid in the State of Florida. In this article, we discuss the issues new Floridians should be aware of to ensure their estate plans will still be valid.

Determining Which Property Will Be Primary

Many people are fortunate enough to have multiple residences. Sometimes the additional residence is used as vacation homes, and sometimes they are used as income-producing investments. Although each state provides different tax structures on property, new Floridians might consider making their Florida home their primary residence.

Florida provides a “Homestead Exemption” on property taxes of primary residences in the state. This exemption can save a homeowner thousands of dollars in taxes. Additionally, homes that qualify for homestead exemption automatically receive the “Save Our Homes” cap. This cap limits how much the tax rate can increase yearly on the house. Many people who buy homes in Florida and keep their previous property fail to take advantage of these tax-saving measures.

Make Sure Property Title Fits Your Wishes

In many states, when a person passes away, the property is automatically transfers to the surviving spouse. Many couples take for granted that Florida law will do the same. If the property title does not provide for a life estate for the survivor, then the property might have to be shared between the surviving spouse and heirs. This can become complicated when the heirs are a result of a previous relationship. The opposite is also true. If a person wants to make sure their heirs receive a portion of the property when they pass, they will want to ensure that the property title is with the surviving spouse as tenants in common.

Wills And Trusts Created In Previous Jurisdictions

For new Floridians’ will or trust to be valid under Florida law, your signature must have executed the will or trust in front of two witnesses. Florida will also recognize a will or trust created in a different jurisdiction. That is, as long as the writer can prove that the documents are in compliance with those local laws. Since Florida does not impose income tax on trusts, a new Florida resident might want to consider having the trust changed to be governed under the laws of Florida to take advantage of the tax benefits. Lastly, Florida law requires that an executor of a will must be an immediate relative or a Florida resident. For example, if someone writes a will in New York that names a lawyer with no ties to Florida as an executor, then that person cannot execute the will.

Medical Directives

Medical directives or living wills from other jurisdictions might not be valid in Florida. A new Florida resident needs to execute a Florida medical directive that allows medical professionals to share information without violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA).

Contact Dowd Law

If you are a new resident of Florida, contact Dowd Law for a consultation. We will review your estate plans from your previous jurisdiction and ensure that they comply with Florida law. Estate planning should give you peace of mind to enjoy the remainder of your life.