On May 27, Florida Governor Charlie Christ signed new Florida Statute 733.1051 into law which, among other estate planning fixes passed this legislative session, addresses a potential problem in the estate plans of Floridians created by repeal of the federal estate tax. The new Florida law, which is retroactive back to January 1, 2010, provides the heirs of Floridians who die in 2010 and have an estate plan that relies on federal estate tax laws to fund AB Trusts or other types of shares or trusts the option of going to court to ask for judicial modification of their loved one's estate plan. The law does not apply to estate plans that clearly anticipate no federal estate tax in 2010.
By requiring the heirs to go to court, the Florida law takes a different approach from other states - including Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin - that have also enacted legislation to address the problem. The laws of these other states provide that the estate plans of their residents who die in 2010 will be construed as if the person died on December 31, 2009, unless, like the Florida law provides, the estate plan clearly anticipates no federal estate tax in 2010.
Like the other states, the Florida law will become null and void at the earlier of such time in 2010 as the federal estate tax is reinstated (but don't count on it) or January 1, 2011.