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The Estate Planning Pitfalls of Being a Snowbird

The Estate Planning Pitfalls of Being a Snowbird

November 20, 2022

As the weather cools and the days grow shorter, heading to warmer climes becomes very appealing. Many retirees dream of being “snowbirds” … migrating south in the winter. And now with being able to work remotely from almost anywhere, you don’t need to be retired to enjoy the best of both worlds, lush green northern summers, and warm sun-filled southern winters.

Like all dreams, we eventually wake up to reality, the reality that living in two places can have on your estate. You may pass away in one state, but the laws in the other state where you reside for part of the year may be completely different.

If you do live in two different states, you will need to choose which state will be your legal “domicile”. This designation will be partly determined by how much time you spend in each as well as other factors.

Some of those other factors include the property laws in each state where you reside, along with your marital status, and each state’s tax structure.

If you haven’t planned well, your estate could end up going through probate in both states. This can be stressful for your heirs and expensive. You can likely avoid this with proper estate planning.

When deciding how much time you will spend in each state and which one will be your official residence, there are also other considerations. If you have a chronic medical condition, are there specialists available to you in each location? If you become incapacitated, is the standard of care similar in both places?

And while you are thinking about your medical care in each location, you should consider having medical proxies and financial powers of attorney for both states so that should you need them, there is no delay in receiving the care and assistance you have designated.

Remember, if you do share your time between two states, you can be officially and legally domiciled in only one.

Your One Financial Services advisor can help you determine which state will be the most advantageous for you and assist you with the relevant estate planning strategies and to formalize your choice.

Call the One Financial Services team today to discuss options and put a plan in place before you head south. 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal advisors regarding your specific situation.