How Does Becoming a Florida Resident Affect My Estate Plan

There are a fair number of New Yorkers who decide to move to Florida, especially as they get older.  Sometimes it is because of the warmer weather there, sometimes it is to avoid income tax and/or state estate tax.  Regardless of the reason,if one is contemplating a move to Florida, or to any other state for that matter (or if one has already moved to another state), one needs to think about how such a move affects one’s estate plan. 


Since Florida does not have its own estate tax, if a person who has done estate planning premised on the belief that she/he/they will have an estate tax issue, a move to Florida is likely to change one’s plan.  For instance, if one has created trusts to avoid estate tax, or if there are trust provisions in one’s will designed to shelter the estate from tax, then those documents need to be reviewed.  They may in fact no longer be necessary, for estate tax purposes, although there may be other good reasons for keeping them.  Only a review of one’s estate plan by an attorney licensed to practice law in both New York and Florida can competently provide advice. Financing long-term health care also varies between the states and should not be overlooked.
While a will properly executed in New York is valid in Florida, it should still be reviewed, as there are some nuances under Florida law which one should be made aware of.  Additionally, a health care proxy, living will and power of attorney prepared in New York will not ordinarily work in Florida.  Therefore, these documents may need to re-done.
Similarly, while probate in New York is simple, that is not the case in Florida.  That does not mean one has to have all new estate planning documents prepared, but one should at least consider preparing a revocable living trust to avoid probate.  Florida has special execution requirements, both for wills and trusts, and one should be aware of those.
In summary, moving to another state does not need to be complicated, but one should consult with an experienced and knowledgeable estate attorney in order to make sure that one’s estate plan will work well in their new domicile.