“I’m moving to Florida” is becoming a recurring theme with my clients. Living there through law school, I can understand why. My clients are usually surprised to learn that in addition to being a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania, I am also licensed to practice law in Florida. I have helped clients in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Collier County, Hillsborough County, and Lee County. I have never actively sought out cases in Florida. But the growing amount of clients that relocate there has made my knowledge of Florida law useful.
Here are a few legal points of interest that I usually talk to my clients about before their move:
If you move to Florida, you may be able to take advantage of their Homestead Law. Florida’s Homestead Law protects a primary residence from creditors, helps to reduce the assessed value for property tax, and will limit how much property taxes can increase. The idea behind the law is to help residents keep their homes. This is very useful for retired clients that live on a fixed income.
Florida also has slightly different requirements for Wills and you may need to open an ancillary estate in Pennsylvania if you keep property here. If you become a Florida resident and you want to speed up the probate process for your heirs, then you will want to make your will “self-proving.” Typically, if you do move to Florida, your assets have probably changed. So, it usually makes sense to revisit your Will and either update it or make an entirely new one that adheres to Florida law. You will also want to be cognizant that if you have property in Pennsylvania and Florida at the time of your passing, then property will likely need to be probated in both jurisdictions. I help to walk my clients through exactly what that entails and how to avoid that situation.
Another issue I raise with my clients moving to South Florida are Homeowners Associations (HOAs). HOAs exist in Pennsylvania, but they do not exist on the same scale as they do in Florida. HOAs are very active in most communities and they do typically provide for greater amenities. But, what can an HOA do if you don’t follow their rules? I have reviewed HOA By-Laws and Rules for clients, so they better understand their obligations.
A big, and important difference, in Florida is that there is NO INDIVIDUAL STATE INCOME TAX. I’ll repeat that. NO INDIVIDUAL STATE INCOME TAX. So, if you continue to earn an income in your retirement, you can keep more of what you earn.
If you live in Southwestern Pennsylvania and have questions about a move to Florida and what legal issues may exist, I’d be happy to speak with you. You can call me at 724-832-2499, text me at 724-858-2744, or schedule an appointment at our Greensburg office, Latrobe office, Pittsburgh office, or Johnstown office.