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We are often asked this question. The quick answer is that if your will is valid where it was drafted, it will be valid in Florida. So despite the popular belief that you need to update your documents when moving to Florida in order for them to be valid, you do not have to do so.

However, we encourage our clients to do planning in their retirement in a fundamentally different way than what they may have done in the past. If your prior planning focused on what property you were leaving to whom, or on “avoiding probate” we would like to encourage you think about a far more pervasive problem that seniors often encounter. According to the Administration on Aging, an agency of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of adults over the age of 65 will require long term care during their lifetimes. If the estate planning that you did in the past ignored this significant likelihood, you should not put your planning on a shelf because your documents are valid in Florida.

Planning for long term care is far more than naming an agent in a durable power of attorney or naming a successor trustee of a revocable trust. While these steps are critical, they are far from complete. If you were to require assistance with the activities of daily living (dressing, bathing, toileting, ambulating, transferring from bed, or feeding yourself) where would you want your care to be delivered? Many people tell us that they want care to be delivered in their own home and that they would not want to go to a long term care community to meet care needs. But they often tell us this desire with no conception of the relative difference in cost. Care in the home is very expensive, particularly when 24 hour care is needed.

We encourage people who are young and healthy enough to explore long term care insurance, but purchasing insurance alone is not sufficient planning. Long term care insurance is just one of the payment resources that families should consider.

Planning involves considering a client’s income and potential resources along with the client’s desires to establish a strategy for care that is economically feasible and known by the family members who would help to implement the strategy. Once the strategy is established, the estate planning documents are prepared in such a way to implement the plan. Therefore, while a move to Florida does not invalidate your documents, it may provide the impetus to face a problem that you are likely to encounter, and allow you to be in the driver’s seat in establishing a plan for your future.