Florida Estate Planning Laws You MUST Know

Requirements for a Valid Will

In Florida, a will must meet specific criteria to be considered valid. It must be in writing and signed by the testator (the person making the will). Additionally, it must be witnessed by at least two individuals who must sign the will in the presence of the testator and each other. This strict witnessing requirement is vital for the will’s enforceability and to prevent disputes among potential heirs​​.

Elective Share Law

Florida law provides a surviving spouse with a right to claim an elective share of the deceased spouse’s estate, typically amounting to 30% of the elective estate. This law is designed to ensure that a spouse cannot be entirely disinherited, protecting the financial interests of the surviving spouse even if they are not prominently featured in the will​​.

Homestead Property

Florida’s homestead laws offer robust protections and benefits for primary residences. These laws protect a primary residence from forced sale by creditors and provide significant tax benefits. However, there are specific rules regarding the transfer of homestead property, particularly when minor children are involved. Understanding these rules is crucial for ensuring that your homestead property is transferred according to your wishes without unintended legal complications​​.

Community Property Trusts

For those married clients with large unrealized gains in their investment portfolio, or who own depreciated commercial property, a new Florida law enables a complete step-up in tax cost basis at the passing of the first spouse, eliminating capital gains. This, and other new Florida laws that benefit single clients as well as married ones. Learn more about Community Property Trusts by reading our Whitepaper here: Learn More

Florida’s unique estate planning laws require careful consideration to ensure your estate plan is both effective and compliant. Whether it’s ensuring your will meets state requirements, protecting your spouse’s rights through the elective share law, or leveraging the benefits of homestead property and community property trusts, understanding these elements is crucial. For personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs, consulting with a professional attorney is highly recommended. At The Sheppard Law Firm, we specialize in navigating Florida’s complex estate planning landscape, ensuring that your legacy is protected and your loved ones are cared for.

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