You recently moved to Florida, and it's your goal to make friends and spend a lot of time fishing and golfing. Before you do that, though, take the time to review your estate plan. With your recent move, there may be aspects of the plan that you need to address to keep your estate safe from taxation and probate.
One good thing about Florida is that it does not have a state death tax, and there is no income tax. If you've moved from a state where you could have faced taxation upon death or income taxes, then worry no longer.
Does Florida have probate?
Yes, like all other states, Florida does have probate. That means that if you pass away without a will, trust or estate plan, or have not assigned an asset to an heir, that asset will enter the probate process.
Why is probate bad? Primarily because of the time it takes to sort out which assets belong to which individuals. Assets with assigned beneficiaries don't go to probate, which means they can directly go to the heir without getting the courts involved.
Interestingly, Florida state laws do not require estate plans for life insurance benefits, annuities, pensions and IRAs that already have assigned beneficiaries. Those assets will pay out directly without the need for a will or estate plan to guide how the assets are disbursed.
Another reason to avoid probate is because of the cost. If your heirs end up in probate, there is typically a set amount for legal fees. For instance, probate assets of $100,000 might cost heirs around $3,000 in legal fees. If an attorney has to perform extraordinary services, then he or she may end up billing the heirs even more. This is something that most people want to avoid, so having a solid estate plan is important.
Get your estate plan together now
Whether you've just moved to Florida or you've lived here for some time, it's a good idea to review your estate plan and to make sure it follows Floridian law. If your estate plan is not updated, it may not provide the protections needed to keep your assets and heirs safe in the event of your passing.
Taking care of this now is key to a successful transition of assets. Good luck on your move, and remember to keep updating your legal documents as regularly as possible.