How Should I Own My Florida Homestead Property?

A commohomesteadnly asked question is, “Should I own my homestead in my trust?”  Generally, the answer is, “No.”  This is not because of your ad valorem homestead exemption or even your Constitutional protection from the claims of creditors. It is not because we don’t want you to avoid probate. Instead, it is because Florida law dictates who can receive your Florida homestead property.

Florida has very unique and strict laws regarding the distribution of your primary homestead residence after you die. Specifically, if you die owning your homestead property in your individual name and you are survived by a spouse or a minor child, Florida law dictates to whom you can leave your property.  If you are survived by a spouse and no minor child, you can only leave your property to your spouse.  If you are survived by both a spouse and a minor child, the spouse automatically receives a life estate and your lineal heirs (all your children) receive the remainder interest.  If you violate the law by directing a different result, the law will prevent your intended distribution and substitute its statutory rule, as outlined above.   (more…)

A Good Deed Gone Wrong


Bob and Suzy get divorced.  Suzy has an adult child, Annie, from a prior relationship. As part of the marital settlement agreement, Bob is supposed to sign a deed conveying his interest in their homestead to Suzy. Suzy is supposed to get a new home loan in her individual name.


Real Property Problems – The Dilemma of the Unmarried Couple

I just received a call from a local realtor.  She was understandably concerned because a purchase and sale transaction she was working on had stalled.  The reason:  the property was owned by an unmarried couple and one of the partners had recently died.  The title search revealed the couple had taken title as John Doe, an unmarried person and Susie Que, an unmarried person.  There was no indication on the deed that title should have been as joint tenants with rights of survivorship.

Important Tax Exemption Filing Deadline is Quickly Approaching

homeIf you recently purchased a home in Florida which is your permanent residence, now is the time to file for your homestead tax exemption. March 1st is the application deadline for filing in order to receive the exemption for 2016.

All Florida residents are eligible for a Homestead Exemption on their homes, condominiums, co-op apartments, and certain mobile home lots if they qualify. The Florida Constitution provides this tax-saving exemption on the first and third $25,000 of the assessed value of an owner/occupied residence. The basic homestead exemption saved the average homeowner in 2015 anywhere from $500 to $1,000 in annual tax savings for a home with a value of $75,000 or higher. More importantly, your assessed value, which is used to calculate your property taxes, cannot increase more than 3% annually after you are granted the exemption.

You are entitled to a Homestead Exemption if, as of January 1st, the qualification deadline, you have made the property your permanent home or the permanent home of a person who is legally or naturally dependent on you. You may also qualify for the exemption if you have a beneficial interest in the property under a 98 year lease or a life estate.

You can apply online or by mail with your county property appraiser.