12. Florida’s Homestead Property Tax Exemption

Florida provides broad protection for homeowners via its homestead exemption laws.  There are three general types of homestead exemptions under Florida law:

  • Exemption from forced sale before and at death to meet the demands
  • of creditors;
  • Protection for spouses against the sale of the homestead without their joinder and protection for spouses and minor children against the devise of the homestead upon death in a will; and
  • The homestead tax exemption.

This post focuses on the basic tax exemption aspect of Florida’s homestead law.  If you have a permanent residence in Florida, you are likely entitled to the homestead property tax exemption. Your permanent residence is considered to be where you reside 6 months or more out of the year and you can only have ONE Homestead residence.

The real estate taxes that you pay annually are based on your county’s “assessed value” of your property and the homestead property tax exemption operates by reducing this assessed value. Currently eligible homeowners may receive a reduction of up to $50,000.00 off the assessed value of their homestead! Be cautious, however; you must take the necessary steps to classify your property as your homestead prior to March 1st of the year in which you will be taxed. You must also own the property on January 1st of that year. Do not assume your closing agent does this for you if you purchase a new residence.

Contact your local County Property Appraiser for more information on how to apply for homestead designation. Manatee County residents can follow this link for a 2018 homestead exemption packet:


This article presents only the most basic information concerning the tax exemption, but there are many aspects and benefits concerning Florida’s homestead protection.  For more information, contact our office.

By: T.R. Smith, Esq.

7. Wills and Trusts: The Administration of an Estate

wills trusts

The death of a spouse is a difficult time in our lives. There are many things that must be done, including the administration of the decedent’s estate. This must be done regardless of whether the decedent had a will or not. Hiring an attorney to guide the probate process is essential. In fact, an attorney can handle most aspects of the probate process, allowing the personal representative (usually you), to focus on other important things.

There are different types of probate administration. This is the process by which a person’s estate is resolved. A qualified attorney will be able to determine which type is right for the decedent’s estate based on the estate’s value considering certain available exemptions. The exemptions include homestead property, exempt personal property up to a certain amount, and a statutory allowance for the surviving spouse (what the survivor automatically gets).

The standard probate administration is known as formal administration. Formal administration is the most lengthy probate process and is required for estates in excess of $75,000.00. This type of administration typically takes 5 or 6 months to complete. However, creditor claims (people the decedent owed money to) or will contests can lengthen this time period.

For estates worth less than $75,000.00, summary administration is available. Summary administration is a much quicker process and can typically be accomplished in 60 days or less. Many of the requirements of a formal administration are not required in a summary proceeding.

The administration of an estate can be tricky. There are requirements that must be followed throughout the process. Failure to follow the law could result in financial liability for the personal representative or the beneficiaries. However, a lawyer will be able to efficiently and effectively get the job done. Always contact an attorney for guidance in the probate process. What you will save in time and money will more than make it worthwhile to have an attorney’s assistance.

By: T.R. Smith, Esq.

Peter Mackey, Esq.