As some Massachusetts residents get older, they choose to avoid the cold New England weather and reside in a warmer climate during part of the year. What does that mean for your estate planning?
First you need to determine what your actual state of legal residency will be. Some factors used to determine residency include where you’re residing for the majority of the year, the state that issues your driver’s license, where your car is registered, where you vote, and what address you use to file your income taxes
Your current will should be valid in either state you live in no matter how much time you spend in each state. But laws can vary from state to state in regard to powers of attorney and advance directives, including health care proxies and living will documents. Also, the laws governing Medicaid (known as MassHealth in Massachusetts) vary from state to state. You should have your documents reviewed by attorneys in both states or an attorney who knows the laws in both states to be sure they comply with the law in both places. Based on what you find, you may consider executing certain documents for each state in order to avoid complications when you need to use those documents.
Owning property in different states may require your heirs to go through the probate process upon your death in more than one state. One solution to this is to set up a trust and have the trust own the real estate, which should make the transfer of property easier upon your death.
Once you get the right estate planning in place, you’ll have peace of mind and be able to enjoy being an official snowbird.