Florida is a popular destination for snowbirds looking to escape the cold winter months. Although moving to Florida for several months of the year requires meticulous preparation, there is one important area that many snowbirds overlook: estate planning. Snowbirds have unique needs that can only be effectively addressed through the estate planning process. In this article, we review some important estate planning documents for Florida snowbirds.
Last Will & Testament
Although a will from another state is valid in Florida, there are some major differences in laws affecting wills among the states. For example, state laws differ regarding who you can name to serve as your personal representative in a will. In addition, some states permit certain types of clauses in wills, while others don’t. One such clause is the “in terrorem” clause. An in terrorem clause essentially cuts out of one’s estate anyone who challenges it. While Florida does not permit such clauses, other states do. Due to these types of differences, as a snowbird, it is imperative that you review your will for compatibility with Florida law and update it as necessary.
Many snowbirds own property in more than one state. Without making proper legal arrangements through the estate planning process, both properties will have to go through probate, which is a lengthy and expensive process. One way to prevent multiple probates is to establish a revocable living trust. However, even if you have a revocable living trust from another state, it will likely need to be redone due to the differences in state laws regarding estate taxes and other matters. Your Florida trust should also include language that permits you to avail yourself of Florida’s creditor protection and homestead tax reduction.
Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive
Finally, if you are a snowbird who resides in Florida for part of the year, your estate plan should include a durable power of attorney and advance medical directive. A durable power of attorney authorizes someone to handle your financial affairs if you become unable to do so yourself, and an advance medical directive tells your doctor your wishes about your health care if you can’t make such decisions yourself. Such documents, while protecting your health and finances, also go a long way in preventing familial disputes regarding your finances and health. However, to ensure their enforceability, you should consider drafting documents for both states where you reside.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
At the Law Offices of Angela Siegel, we are here to assist you with your estate planning needs. Our talented estate planning attorney routinely provides legal advice to snowbirds making the move from up north to Florida. With years of experience providing estate planning guidance to snowbirds, Angela Siegel can ensure that your estate plan addresses your unique needs. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.