Have you ever thought about how often you have moved in your life? In fact, American society has never been more mobile. There are many reasons people move, but a move across state lines may have been motivated by lower taxes, better job prospects, warmer weather or a desire to be closer to one’s grandchildren. Whatever the reasoning, moving to a different state is a signal that updating your estate plan is necessary. This is because each state, including Florida, has its own laws governing an estate plan. Therefore your estate planning tools, such as a will and powers of attorney, may not work the way you want them to after you move.

Often there are many rules that are similar and a valid will prepared in your previous state of residence will probably be valid in your new state of residence, but you need to be careful. Different states have different rules regarding the execution of documents. States may differ on important matters, such as witnesses to will signings, disinheriting children, and marriage and divorce. Once you relocate to Florida, do not leave your legacy to chance and as soon as possible seek the advice of a Florida estate planning attorney.

When you update your estate plan to comply with the execution requirements of your new state, you can make certain the validity and enforceability of your documents. For example, in states like Florida, the personal representative of your last will and testament is required to be related by blood or marriage, or to be a Florida resident. A personal representative is someone named in a will who is responsible for collecting the property of the deceased, paying their debts and taxes, and distributing what is left to those named accordingly in the will during the Florida probate process. With that being stated, be aware that if you recently moved to the Sunshine State and have someone from your previous state listed as your personal representative who is not a blood relative, a Florida probate court will not allow them to serve. 

There is, however, one document which may be in your estate plan that can usually move across state lines and that is your trust agreement. Trust planning, under the guidance of your experienced estate planning attorney, can be essential to avoid the probate process at the time of your passing. If you do not have a trust agreement as a part of your estate plan yet, then you may want to consider the advantages of one with your estate planning attorney upon revisiting your existing estate plan. 

If you bring a comprehensive estate plan into your new state home, then starting from scratch may not be necessary. This will depend on your circumstances and is a conversation to have with your estate planning attorney. In addition to your relocation, if it has been more than three years since the last time your estate plan was revised, or if major changes in your family such as the birth of a child, then it may be a good idea to revamp your estate documents anyway. Your estate planning attorney can look at your plan to let you know what may need to be changed and may also be able to introduce you to an attorney in your new state.

We know this article may raise more questions that it answers.  We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering.