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Do I Need to Update My Estate Plan if I Relocate?

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Relocate to Florida
Be sure to review your estate plan after you relocate to Florida.

Anyone who relocates to another state – for retirement, a new job or to be closer to family – needs to have a look at their estate plan to make sure it’s valid in their new state, advises the Boca Newspaper in the recent article “I’ve Relocated To Florida…Should I Update My Estate Plan?”

If an estate plan hasn’t been created, a relocation is the perfect opportunity to get this important task done. Think of it as preparation for your new life in your new home.

Because so many retirees do relocate to Florida, there are some general rules that make this easier. For one thing, most Wills that are valid in another state are recognized in Florida. There’s a specific law in the Florida statutes that confirms that a Will “other than a holographic or nuncupative will, executed by a nonresident of Florida… is valid as a will in this state if valid under the laws of the state or country where the will was executed.”

In other words, if the estate plan was prepared by an estate planning attorney and is legally valid in the prior state, it’ll be valid in Florida. Exceptions are a holographic Will, which is a handwritten Will that is signed by the person with no witnesses, or a nuncupative Will, which is a verbal statement made in front of witnesses.

However, just because your Will is recognized in Florida doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a review after you relocate.

There are distinctions in Florida law that may make certain provisions invalid or change their meaning. In one well-known case, a do-it-yourself Will was missing one sentence—known as a “residual clause,” a catch-all provision that distributes assets that are otherwise not specified. The maker of the Will wanted everything to go to her brother. However, without that one clause, property acquired after the Will was created was not included. The court determined that the property that was acquired after the Will was created would go to other relatives – despite the wishes of the decedent.

Little details mean a lot when it comes to estate plans. Just because an estate planning document is legally valid doesn’t mean it’ll be effective in carrying out your wishes.

It’s important to ensure that your Last Will and Testament properly expresses intentions under the laws of your new home state. After you relocate, it might be the time to speak with your estate planning attorney about whether any trusts are applicable to your estate. A revocable living trust, for example, would prevent the assets placed in the trust from having to go through probate.

It’s also a great time to review your Durable Power of Attorney, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, and nomination of a Pre-need Guardian.

Estate planning gives you peace of mind, knowing that the legal side of your life is all taken care of. It also avoids stress and unnecessary costs and delays to your family. To keep it current, it should be reviewed – and updated, if needed – at big events in your life, including when you relocate, when you sell or buy a home, or when you retire.

Reference: Boca Newspaper (May 1, 2019) “I’ve Relocated To Florida…Should I Update My Estate Plan?”

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