Florida Estate Planning

Florida is a good State to have one’s estate owned in because of its favorable tax benefits to individuals with high worth and income. For starters, Florida has no State income tax meaning that any income earned is subject to 2 to 11 percent less Government tax in comparison to some other U.S. States, and in 2009 , Florida has no Estate tax, meaning those estates passed on via inheritance in 2009 will not be taxable under Florida estate tax law. Florida estate tax laws can be found and reviewed at the following link: Florida estate tax laws.


Estates are the totality of an individuals’ assets which may include a number of financial instruments, property, investments and legal holding structures. Since different assets are subject to different financial, tax, and ownership regulations, managing an estate to take into account State specific regulations is wise to consider. For example, in Florida, for assets to be subject to State estate law, the estate owner must be a resident of Florida. 

Secondly, the good management of an estate may allow it to increase in value, be subject to lower costs, and less taxation, and/or legal complications. Thus, two primary estate planning principles can be used for Florida estates include, 1) Asset specific financial management and 2) goal and/or objective specific estate planning. For example, Florida has specific legal documents such as wills that are ideally used to be applicable in regard to distribution of estate assets.

* Asset specific estate planning:

Different assets in an estate are subject to different rules. For example, real estate is subject to property tax whereas some investments such as government bonds may be tax free. Furthermore, different counties within Florida have different property tax rates, rendering some Florida counties of potentially lower cost than others. Optimizing the financial planning and management of each asset individually can facilitate a better overall use and allocation of estate resources both financially and legally.

To illustrate the above further to keep an Estate below the State and/or Federal Estate tax minimum, placing estate assets that cause the estate to be worth more than this minimum in the name of 1) foreign company trusts , 2) signing over property ownership to tax deductible charities or 3) giving estate property away to family as a gift.

* Goal and/or objective specific estate planning:

Goal or objective estate planning that is customized for the State of Florida will naturally work within Florida estate law, and possibly be designed to meet the financial wishes such as distribution upon death, asset worth benchmarks, cost controls and portfolio assets allocation percentages.

For example, a goal may to have an estate be subject to the lowest possible inheritance and/or estate taxation possible following death. Or, an objective may be for the estate’s use to facilitate sustainable charity operations, support a family etc. Estate goals are not necessarily State specific, but may be required to be State specific to comply with State estate law and goals subject or influenced by that State’s law. Specific State information pertaining to Florida estates can be linked to from the urls provided at the ‘Florida estate resources’ section at the end of this article.


In addition to the above information, planning an Estate in Florida has further nuances and rules of thumb that may or may not be used in Estate planning for other States. Since most if not all U.S. States have variances in their estate laws, planning estates in Florida should take into account the State specific requirements to be subject to more optimal management. A few tips that may assist in planning an estate in Florida are listed below; these tips and/or facts may or may not conform with the goals of the estate owner(s) and thus should be read and considered as informational only:

* Verify Florida residence with a paper trail 
* Florida estates are not taxed upon death if they are below Federal estate tax minimums
* Choose non-taxable estate financial instruments such as life insurance
* Keep good records and up to date Estate accounts information 
* Carefully and clearly define estate distribution intent following death
* Consider using a trust to avoid probate and when assets exceed tax minimums
* Contact a specialized estate lawyer or accounted licenses in Florida
* Protect estate assets from credit collectors, income garnishment and legal proceedings


The above information is not intended, nor should be received as replacing the advice of an attorney, accountant or licenses estate planner. Rather, the information is presented as a guide that may provide useful information that is used at the discretion of the reader. That said, this article has discussed estate planning in terms of optimization for cost, goals, worth and Florida State specific requirements. The resources that follow were utilized in the creation of this article and may provide additional or helpful estate planning information.


Florida Estate Planning Resources:

1) http://www.scribd.com/doc/15069049/Floridas-Estate-Tax-Income-Tax-and-Property-Tax-Advantages


3) http://finance.mapsofworld.com/tax/inheritance/florida.html

4) http://library.findlaw.com/2000/May/1/126207.html


6) http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/228.html

7) http://estate.findlaw.com/estate-planning/estate-planning-law/estate-planning-law-state-taxes.html