Experienced and Knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorneys in The Villages answer Frequently Asked Questions about Will, Trusts and Tax Planning in Florida
The Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group in The Villages is here to answer your questions about Florida wills, trusts, long-term care planning, probate, guardianship, tax law and more. Below are answers to some of the questions we encounter most frequently as we advise and assist clients throughout central Florida with all their estate planning needs.
What do I need to make a valid will in Florida?
A valid will in Florida must meet the following requirements: It must be signed by the person making the will, who is known as the testator. Either the testator’s signature must appear at the end of the will, or if the testator is unable to sign it, some other person must sign the will at the end in the presence of the testator and at the testator’s direction. Two witness must also sign the will, attesting to the fact that they witnessed the testator’s signature or the testator’s acknowledgement that he or she previously signed the will or had another person sign the will for the testator.
What is an “elective share”?
By law, the surviving spouse of someone who was domiciled in Florida has the right to 30% of the net value of the deceased’s property. The spouse has the right to choose (elect) to take this share in place of whatever the spouse would otherwise inherit according to the will.
How does a Family Limited Partnership work?
A Family Limited Partnership, or FLP, is a legal entity that is owned by members of the same family as an estate planning tool. Generally, the senior members of the family act as the FLP’s general partner or partners and exercise management and control over the FLP assets and property. Younger generations of the family take the roles of limited partners in the FLP and benefit from the investments of the FLP by owning a larger interest or share in the partnership. This way, property can pass from one generation to the next outside of probate, while at the same time reducing the taxable estate and offering asset protection for the general partners.
How much are estate taxes in Florida?
The federal estate tax rate tops out at 40%, but each person enjoys an estate tax exemption of more than $5 million, which can be basically doubled for married couples, so with a little planning, you don’t need to worry about paying that hefty estate tax on the bulk of your estate. If you have significant assets over the exemption amount, we can help you engage in more careful tax planning to further reduce your exposure to the estate tax.
The estate tax is a federal tax only, by the way. Florida does not have an estate tax. Florida used to have what is known as a “pick up tax” or “sponge tax,” where the state would collect whatever portion of the federal estate tax which was allowed as a credit on the state tax return. This tax has been phased out, however, and Florida no longer has a separate estate tax of its own.
What if I have more questions?
That’s why we’re here! Click on this link to view even more estate planning questions and answers, or better yet, call our offices toll-free at (800) 743-9732 to speak with one of our knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorneys.