Why Estate Planning Is Especially Important for Snowbirds
As a resident of Northern Illinois, I am all too familiar with the harsh weather we often experience during the winter. In fact, I know many people—many of them retirees—who maintain a separate home in a warmer climate to be used during the coldest months of the year. Affectionately known as a “snowbirds,” those who literally “go south for the winter” are like most people when it comes to estate planning. They should absolutely take steps to protect their assets and their loved ones, and they must adhere to applicable laws and guidelines.
Snowbirds, however, do face some unique challenges, many of which stem from spending a great deal of time in multiple states. As an estate planning lawyer, I know that it can be difficult to know for sure which state’s laws you should follow when you split time between Illinois and Florida, for example. To determine the right answer, there are some important things to consider.
Where Do You Really Live?
While determining the state of residence for some may be fairly straightforward, others may experience more difficulty in doing so. For example, if you only own real estate in one location, have only one bank account, and regularly register your vehicle in just one state, then this would generally be your state of residence. However, there are many people who own real estate in two states. They may have two bank accounts and may even register their vehicles in both locations. If you are in the latter group, perhaps it is easiest to determine your “resident” state by looking at the state in which you are registered to vote.
Real Estate Considerations
Even though most of your affairs will be handled according to your state of primary residence, there are other matters that may be governed by the laws of the state in which the property is owned. Real estate is a prime example. This is not always the case, of course. However, it may be advisable to establish a trust in each state where property is owned. This can often make the transfer of real estate easier upon your death.
End of Life Decisions
Do you have a plan in place for an emergency health situation? Does your plan assume that the emergency will occur while you are here in Illinois? If you spend time in two states, you could become suddenly ill or incapacitated in either state. Further, if you have bank accounts or other assets in each location, your Durable Power of Attorney may not work as you intended across state lines. Protect yourself (and your loved ones) from unexpected issues by having a Durable Power of Attorney for each state. This can improve the chances that your affairs will be handled appropriately, no matter where you are or where you own assets.
Contact Us for Estate Planning Guidance
If you are a snowbird with estate planning questions, the experienced Naperville estate planning lawyers at our firm can help you find the answers. We will provide the guidance you need throughout the planning process and assist you in addressing all of your concerns. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at the Gierach Law Firm today.