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1 important estate planning tool isn’t usable in Florida

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2023 | Estate Planning

Every state has unique statutes related to criminal matters, family law and civil issues. The difference in laws from state to state can lead to a lot of confusion, especially when people relocate from one state to another after becoming familiar with the laws in their former home state.

Florida has quite a few older adults and retirees enjoying its warm climate. These individuals, who may have lived much of their lives elsewhere, often need to revisit their estate plans when they settle in Florida because a tool commonly used in other states isn’t effective in Florida.

What can’t people include in Florida estate plans?

The essential documents that people use to pass their property on to others will be the same in Florida as anywhere else. People will use wills or trusts as the primary device for ensuring the descent of their property in accordance with their wishes when they die.

However, the clauses that people can include in their documents differ in Florida when compared with the rest of the country. No-contest clauses are legal almost everywhere else. Also known as penalty clauses, these additions to wills or trusts impose a penalty if someone challenges the estate in probate court.

When someone adds a no-contest clause to their estate plan, beneficiaries and family members that challenge the validity of their documents could end up disinherited. Unfortunately for those who already added in no-contest clause to their estate plan, Florida probate courts will not uphold no-contest clauses. Therefore, family members can still bring challenges without penalty if someone was a Florida resident when they died and therefore their estate will pass through Florida probate court.

New Floridians may need to adjust their estate plans to reflect the fact that such clauses are unenforceable. In some cases, testators may need to have difficult conversations with their family members or invest in more robust estate planning resources, like trusts, to better ensure that their loved ones uphold their wishes.

Learning more about the unique probate and estate planning laws in Florida with the assistance of a legal professional can help people to protect themselves, their families and their legacies in turn.