With winter in full swing, snowbirds are flocking to Florida to escape the frigid northern temperatures. Moving south for the winter requires a lot of preparation. However, one preparatory step that many snowbirds fail to consider is estate planning. As a snowbird, living in more than one state during the year can have unexpected consequences on your estate. Fortunately, it is possible to address the legal issues that stem from the snowbird lifestyle through proper estate planning. In this article, we discuss estate planning for Florida snowbirds.
Advance Health Care Directives and Durable Power of Attorney
As a snowbird, you should strongly consider executing an advance health care directive and durable power of attorney for each state in which you reside. An advance health care directives allows you to name one or more persons to make health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. And a durable power of attorney allows you to appoint one or more individuals to act on your behalf regarding your personal and financial affairs. Although states usually recognize advance health care directives and durable powers of attorney that were executed in other states, it’s generally a good idea to complete separate ones for each state in which you live during the year.
Although people don’t often associate this was estate planning, becoming a resident of a new state can impact one’s estate. Therefore, as a Florida snowbird, you should consider whether changing your domicile to Florida may benefit you and your family. Being a Florida resident offers many advantages, including:
- Florida has no state estate tax
- Florida has no state income tax
- Florida offers a homestead exemption
However, before changing your domicile, you should first discuss the pros and cons of doing so with an experienced estate planning lawyer.
Finally, if you own real estate in more than one state, this could subject your estate to multiple probates when you pass away if you don’t address this issue in your estate plan. Specifically, ancillary probate is ordinarily required in each state where you own real estate that is not your primary state of residence. For example, if you own property in New York and Florida, the primary probate proceeding will occur in your state of domicile at the time of your passing. Then, a second probate proceeding, which is commonly referred to as an ancillary probate proceeding, will take place in the other state. Fortunately, through the estate planning process, it is possible to take steps to avoid the need for an ancillary probate proceeding.
Contact an Experienced Florida Estate Planning Lawyer
If you are a Florida snowbird, you have unique estate planning needs. At the Law Offices of Angela Siegel, we are here to help you meet those needs. When you come to us for assistance, Ms. Siegel will help you draft a comprehensive estate plan that ensures your interests are protected. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation.