Many people create an estate plan when they buy a house or have a child. Some people never revisit their estate plan because their plans for their legacy never change.
However, if you are a transplant to the Sunshine State who wants a warm retirement, you may need to update your estate plan. There is an important difference between Florida and essentially every other state in the country that could impact what happens to your property after you die.
The Florida courts won’t uphold no-contest clauses
If a family member wants a bigger inheritance than what you left for them, they could challenge your estate and cost everyone in the family thousands of dollars in probate fees. Trying to avoid those legacy-diminishing expenses can motivate some testators to include no-contest clauses in their estate plans.
A no-contest clause disinherits someone for challenging the estate plan. People add the clauses when they know their children constantly fight over things or when they choose to disinherit someone and believe they will be unhappy about that decision.
Although you technically can still include a no-contest clause in your Florida estate plan, state law in Florida prohibits the courts from enforcing the clause. While it may still serve as a deterrent, it won’t have any practical effect during estate administration. Worse, it could actually strengthen someone’s claim that your estate plan was inaccurate or outdated.
Unenforceable and ruled documents may be more vulnerable to a challenge
Keeping old clauses and terms in your estate plan could actually achieve the exact opposite of your intent when you added those terms. Sometimes, people can successfully challenge an estate plan based on it being so old and outdated that it no longer reasonably reflects the values and priorities of the testator.
A holdover no-contest clause from estate planning years ago in another state could strengthen the claim someone makes about your documents being old and inaccurate. Although leaving the clause in doesn’t inherently invalidate the rest of the document, it could increase the risk of someone challenging your wishes.
Updating your documents to reflect Florida state law can help ensure your estate plan is enforceable if you die after moving to Florida.