Do I Need to Update my Estate Plan After Moving to Florida?

Posted on July 17, 2021, by Nicholas Medley
Florida
Moving to a new state means that it is time to update important documents, like your driver’s license and car registration. Among those documents should be your will or living trust. If you have moved to Florida from another state, your probably do not need to start from scratch with a whole new estate plan. However, you should probably get your estate plan updated after the move to make sure that it is in full compliance with and takes full advantage of Florida law. Establishing Florida Domicile One of the big benefits of living in Florida is that we currently have no estate tax, unlike many other states. Because of this, it is important that you establish your Florida residency. Otherwise, your estate might be subject to the estate taxes of another state. One part of establishing Florida as your home is claiming in your estate plan that you are domiciled in Florida. In 1992, a court in Pennsylvania determined that a man with a Florida license, a Florida vehicle registration, and a Florida homestead exemption on his Florida home was domiciled in Pennsylvania and subject to the Pennsylvania estate tax (Estate of Getz, 611 A.2d 778 (1992).). The court came to that conclusion because his will said he lived in Pennsylvania. This by itself is good reason to get your will updated after moving. Updating Your Choice of Personal Representative After moving to Florida, you need to ensure that your choice of personal representative—sometimes called an executor in other states—is qualified to serve as personal representative in Florida. The Florida Probate Code requires that your personal representative either be a resident of Florida or related to you. Thus, if you have nominated someone in your will that does not fall into one of those two categories, your will needs to be updated to comply with Florida law. Thinking About Marital Property When moving to Florida, you may need to update your estate plan regarding any marital property. This need arises when someone moves from a state that has community property laws because Florida has no such laws. Whether your property is community property affects the nature of your ownership and the tax consequences when the property passes to your heirs. So, make sure you have any marital property clauses in your will or living trust reviewed by an estate planning attorney after moving. Including a Self-Proving Affidavit Florida requires that a will be proved after death. This means that one of the witnesses of a will needs to be found to testify as to the authenticity of that will. You can imagine how difficult it might be for someone in Florida to track down an old witness from years ago in completely different state. If you are thinking that this is an awful system, you are right! Thankfully, Florida offers a solution for wills executed under our state’s laws. If the will contains a self-proving affidavit, the will proves its own authenticity and no witnesses need to be found to probate the will. But if your will was executed in another state, it might not contain the self-proving affidavit. So, this is just one more thing to look for when updating your estate plan. Planning for Florida’s Probate Rules Florida has a number of unique rules that need to be considered when your estate plan is being reviewed. For example, Florida’s homestead rules are both unusual and strict. If the Florida probate rules are not considering during your planning, then those rules might disrupt your estate plans and result in beneficiaries not getting what you intended. Therefore, it makes sense to have a lawyer take a look at your plan to see if anything needs to be moved around or added. Blakely Moore is an estate planning attorney in Gainesville, FL. He prepares wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents.  You can find out more about him and his firm at gnvestateplanning.com, and if you’re in the Gainesville area, give him a call. – Nick