Estate planning for Florida snowbirds

Estate planning is vital, especially for older persons. Wills, living trusts, insurance trusts and other trust forms can help ensure that a person's assets are divided in the fashion that the person wishes, instead of by probate courts and other outside agents, such as tax collectors. Elder law varies from state-to-state, and those who may split time between Florida and another state need to strive to understand how multiple addresses may affect their estate planning.

As many advice articles observe, choosing a state of permanent residence when you spend up to six months a year in another, affects estate planning. Florida is an attractive option for retirees, especially given its lack of estate taxes. Other state taxes, however, do exist that may affect estate plans. By working with an experienced attorney, one can find the best planning solution.

For example, owning major tangible property in multiple states may end up creating a situation where probate courts in both states become involved. A clear will may help deal with this situation, but a durable power of attorney or living will may need to be filed in both states to avoid confusion.

Understanding how the choice of a permanent residence and various laws of additional states where a person keeps a home can affect estate planning can help reduce the taxes or fees associated with administration. Clear, well-designed wills can help cut down on unnecessary court intervention and ensure that a person's final wishes are executed as planned and desired.

Source: WBZ Radio, "How To Protect Your Estate While Living In Two States," Dee Lee, Oct. 19, 2012

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