Estate Planning for Dual-State Residents

estate planning lawyer in Clearwater Balancing Money and HomeHaving a residence in another state is not uncommon for many Floridians. While this clearly provides many benefits for the individual’s lifestyle, it requires some extra planning by an estate planning lawyer in Clearwater.

State of Domicile

While a person may have a residence and spend time in more than one state, they may have only one domicile, which as defined by an estate planning lawyer in Clearwater, is the person’s legal home. If that fact is in dispute, the primary consideration is the person’s intent, as evidenced by some of the following:

• Where the person holds their driver’s license
• Where the person is registered to vote
• The mailing address the person uses for federal and state income tax purposes

Estate Probate

As each state has different laws regarding probate issues, there can be a significant impact on the heirs and beneficiaries depending on the person’s legal residence. This impact can be even greater in instances where one state is a community property state and the other is a non-community property state or where the person dies and leaves an intestate estate.

Other Considerations

Not only is the state of domicile on the date of death an important factor, so too is the consideration of which state the estate planning documents were executed in. Again, each state has its own laws. Issues to consider include:

• The executor; some states place limitations on who may be named as an executor if that person is not a state resident. At the very least, the fact that an executor may have to travel to another state for probate purposes should be considered.
• Advance healthcare directives; sometimes called living wills, these documents provide guidance for the type of medical care the person wishes to receive if incapacitated. The forms as well as the limitations may vary by state.
• Durable powers of attorney; these documents appoint an individual to handle a person’s financial needs if that person becomes incapacitated. This is especially important to consider if the person conducts business in both states.

Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer in Clearwater for Legal Advice

The planning necessary to properly safeguard an estate is more difficult for those with residences in two states. Be certain your interests are well protected. Call the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.

Storing Wills

Largo estate attorney Living Trust & Estate Planning DocumentAs you wrap up your session with a Largo estate attorney, you may learn about how to properly store your will. This is important information to know because if your will is not located, all of your hard work with establishing the best estate plan for you with your Largo estate attorney may be for nothing.

Reasons Why Storage Is Important

While many clients might express fear of their will being lost because of water damage, fire or theft, these occurrences are much less likely than family members being unable to find the original will. In some situations, the family does locate the will but only after they have incurred significant legal expenses.


Your Largo estate lawyer can also explain that it is important that you plan for contingencies. For example, your personal representative may die before you do and your alternate personal representative will be the one who needs to know where the will is. If you simply informed your original personal representative of the will’s location, this will not assist you if the contingency arises. Another possibility is that both personal representatives might predecease you. Planning for these contingencies can help your beneficiaries be spared from hassle and expense.

Storage Locations

Your Largo estate lawyer may give you several options for storing your will. For example, he or she may say that you might choose to store your will in the same location where you keep other important documents. Your Largo estate planning lawyer might inform you of the pros and cons of certain storage locations. For example, if you store the will in a safe deposit box, the contract with the bank may state that no one can access the contents if you die without certain documentation from a court, which would not help your beneficiaries who need to get the will before any such legal procedures were put in place. Your Largo estate attorney might recommend providing a copy of the will to the personal representative that you have named or storing the will himself or herself.

If you would like more information on this subject, contact Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.

Community Property in Florida

estate planning attorney in Clearwater Scales of JusticeAlthough Florida is considered a non-community property state, Florida probate law does recognize that assets and the proceeds from those assets acquired by an individual while living in a community property state may retain their community property character. A estate planning attorney in Clearwater can explain if it is beneficial to retain the assets as community property and the issues that affect how such assets are distributed.


In addition to the actual assets that were acquired or became community property in a community property jurisdiction, a estate planning attorney in Clearwater emphasizes that the law also applies to:
• Assets acquired with the proceeds or income from community property, or
• Assets that are traceable to community property.


A presumption is a fact that the law presumes, but which can be overcome by evidence to the contrary. Florida law presumes personal property acquired in a community property jurisdiction is community property, but real property located in Florida is presumed not to be community property, with some exceptions.

Distribution after the Death of the First Spouse

If an asset is deemed to be community property, then, upon the death of the first spouse, one-half of that asset belongs to the surviving spouse and is not subject to any testamentary disposition of the deceased spouse. The other-half is subject to the deceased spouse’s testamentary disposition.

Stepped-up Basis

The benefit for a surviving spouse in holding assets as community property is that under federal estate planning tax law, the entire value of community property receives an adjustment to a valuation as of the date of death. If the property was held as non-community property, the income tax basis of the deceased spouse’s property and only one-half of the jointly owned assets receive a date of death valuation.

Contact an Estate Law Firm in Clearwater for Legal Advice

It is possible to sever the community property nature of assets without intending to do so. It is important to have a clear understanding of the goals of the individuals and a complete knowledge of the complexities and nuances of the law. For all your estate planning planning concerns, call the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.