When snowbirds start feeling cooler weather, they hit the road and head south. If you’re traveling with the flock, keep these “estate planning for snowbirds” considerations in mind as you pack your things.
What is happening in your destination state?
We are still in the midst of a pandemic, so check-in and do some research on your destination. How many COVID-19 cases has the state had? Are the numbers trending upward? When you arrive, will you be required to quarantine for a period of time? Are there any local orders that you’ll need to know about, like mask requirements or restaurant restrictions?
Which state do you call home?
Your state of domicile impacts your estate planning, family law matters, and taxes. Due to differences in state tests for determining residency, you can be considered a resident of more than one state, but you can only be domiciled in one state. Domiciliary status differs with state law, but across the country, your domicile is where you permanently live and where you intend to remain or return.
Because you are spending time in more than one state, meet with your tax advisor to confirm that you are filing the appropriate tax returns and have a plan in place to make the most of the differences in tax laws. For example, Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming do not have any personal income tax. You may also want to meet with us to discuss the estate planning implications of owning properties in multiple states.
Have you reviewed your estate plan lately?
Before you head south, review your estate planning documents. Life changes sometimes occur without warning, and having an up-to-date estate plan can ensure that your wishes are carried out no matter what happens to you. Use these questions to determine if your documents still meet your needs.
- Do you still want your named fiduciaries (i.e., the trustee, personal representative, guardian for a minor child, and agents under a financial power of attorney or medical power of attorney) to act on your behalf, and can they still serve in that role?
- Are your named beneficiaries still alive? Would like to leave something to any additional individuals or charities? Do you want to adjust the amount of an inheritance or the manner in which you are leaving an inheritance?
- Do your beneficiary designations for retirement accounts and life insurance policies match the rest of your estate plan?
- If you need to move for health reasons but cannot make moving decisions for yourself, does your agent have the authority to relocate you to another state?
Additionally, you may require assistance with financial transactions while you are away, so you may want to review your financial power of attorney to determine if it is springing or immediate. A springing power of attorney allows your agent to act only when you are not able to act on your own; an immediate power of attorney allows your agent to act on your behalf right away, regardless of your ability to act for yourself.
Make sure your estate plan includes all necessary documents. If you have a will-based estate plan, you may want to add a revocable living trust to your estate planning portfolio. This can be important if you own property in more than one state. With no trust in place to consolidate ownership and administration, your loved ones may end up going through multiple probates in different states, which can complicate the settlement of your estate.
Are your estate planning documents compliant in both states?
Estate planning laws are state-specific and for certain documents, such as the financial power of attorney and healthcare directive, each state may have its own statutory forms. While one state may honor a document executed in another state, medical personnel will be better able to honor your wishes in an emergency if your instructions are in a familiar form. Has an attorney licensed in your second state review your documents for compliance? You can prepare a second financial power of attorney and healthcare directive if necessary.
Please give us a call as you prepare for your upcoming travel. We can answer your questions and make sure you are properly protected no matter where you may roam.
You can schedule a call with us or reach us directly at 855.528.9637 to learn more about how best to plan today to protect those most important to you.