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Should new Brevard County residents update out-of-state estate plans?

Many Brevard County people are originally from Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Michigan and other snow-covered places. Now that you're in the Sunshine State, do you have to get all of your estate planning documents from those other places converted to Florida documents?

No, writes a Treasure Coast estate planning attorney, but you should definitely have a Florida estate planning lawyer review your out-of-state documents.

The attorney notes in an advice column that Florida law states that a will that's valid in the state where it was executed will be honored here. But there are potential problems with your will that a lawyer in your new home state should look for.

One such possible problem: you've got a homestead in Florida that is to be put in a trust for your spouse and children at the time of your death. Yet Florida law says a homestead is not devisable to anyone but your spouse, if you have one. The attorney notes that if your will fails to comply to the law, the result would be "a life estate to the spouse with vested remainder to the homesteader' s children" - which means the property will not be controlled by the trustee, as originally intended.

Problems can then arise, especially if the children and surviving spouse are not on good terms, the advice column states.

There are other potential pitfalls regarding a sale of your homestead and distribution of the proceeds to your kids. In certain circumstances, a directed homestead sale can cause the loss of the homestead exemption for creditor protection - a painful loss for your heirs.

You can speak to a qualified Brevard County estate planning attorney about looking for these possible problems and others, and then fixing them if they exist.

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