“Florida-fying” Your Estate Plan
Once you have officially made the choice to move to Florida, and have put down roots in the community, your next step should be to evaluate any estate planning choices you have made, and make sure they comply with Florida law. For some documents, you may not need to make any major changes, but you may need to “Florida-fy” others and ensure they will not be challenged or overturned because they do not comply with state law. Consulting a Florida estate planning attorney is a good idea, so you can ensure that all your documents pass muster.
Verify Your Residency
There is one thing that must be done before considering your estate plan, so as to ensure your work is not wasted: you must ensure that your old state does not still claim you as a resident. If you still have financial ties to your former home, or even if there is something as small as your declaration in your will that you are a resident of that state, it can sometimes be taken very seriously. If you somehow make an error that leads to you being seen as a resident of your old home state, that state’s tax laws can apply, which in turn can render your will or other asset designations essentially void.
If you can confidently ensure that you will not be claimed as a resident by your old state, the first part of your estate plan that you should ensure complies with Florida law is your will – or, if you do not have one, you can ensure that you create one in compliance with state law. Generally, if your will was valid in the state where it was executed, it will be seen as valid in Florida – but it is crucial to at least amend any statements of where you reside, even if you change nothing else.
Adjust Your Medical Documents
Aside from your will, the other estate planning documents that are most often challenged under Florida law are those having to do with medical care. In particular, Florida’s durable power of attorney (POA) law is much more specific than many other states’, and if your POA does not meet those specifications, it will not be enforced. Essentially, the relevant Florida statute holds that if your POA does not contain language expressly authorizing the agent’s actions on your behalf, they may not be permitted to make the decisions you want them to make, and guardianship proceedings will be initiated. The law aims to shield potentially vulnerable people from exploitation by making their intentions absolutely clear, but new Floridians may not be aware of these requirements.
Comparatively, other medical documents like designations of healthcare surrogate are less prone to potential issues, simply because there is no requirement to explicitly authorize any kind of action undertaken by your nominated surrogate. Nonetheless, it is a good idea to have an experienced attorney vet your medical documentation to ensure that it complies with Florida law, just to make certain that all is in order.
Contact A Naples Estate Planning Attorney
If you have questions, concerns or just want to set up a complimentary consultation to discuss your personal legal issues in a confidential setting, contact James R. Nici, the Managing Partner of Nici Law Firm, a Naples estate planning attorney with almost 30 years of legal experience. This may be the first step toward ensuring all is how you want it to be going forward. Contact our offices today via our website, or on the telephone at 239-449-6150, to schedule your complimentary consultation.