Although the “snowbird life”—enjoying different times of year in different states—was a thing way before pandemic induced disruptions, new remote lifestyles have made it more possible then ever to live life from two or more locations. When it comes to organizing for the future though, our estate plans must reflect the one state which is our official domicile.
State Laws Vary
No one wants to leave their loved ones with excess complications to manage when the time comes to bring closure to our affairs. Because laws differ between states, it is important to clearly designate one state as the primary domicile for estate planning purposes. As Lisa Powers of Harris Beach PLLC explains: “Even if you ‘live’ in both states, you are only officially domiciled in one. You are considered a visitor in the other state.” If you die without a clearly identified domicile, your family might be left with a lot of time consuming and expensive complications, including the possibility of going through the probate process in two states. Legal experts at JD Supra offer this guidance on making your principal domicile official and explicit:
You must choose which state is your true home (also known as your “domicile”). This may be determined by the amount of time you spend in each, as well as other factors. If you’re in a situation where you truly can choose,…work with an experienced attorney to figure out which state’s laws are going to be the most advantageous to you…and then work to ensure your choice is formalized. All kinds of factors can influence this decision, such as the property laws of each state, your marital status and even tax rates. For example, Florida doesn’t have state estate taxes…but it does have other taxes that could come into play. Non-tax considerations should also be considered. Do you have a chronic medical condition? Perhaps there are better specialists in one locale….If a crisis occurs will you have support in both places? For many, the answer is a clear “no.”
When you work with an estate planning lawyer, you will create a will or trust—or even a combination. In doing so, you will designate a loved one, friend or professional to serve as your fiduciary. This person is generally referred to as the executor, trustee, or personal representative, depending on the circumstances and location. Be sure to follow state laws regarding the appointment of this fiduciary too. Essentially, your designee will serve as the administrator of your affairs, in accordance with the intentions set forth in your estate planning documents—and state law. Given the responsibilities involved, estate bonds are frequently requested—and sometimes even required. Sometimes alternatively referred to as administrator, executor, probate, personal representative or trustee bonds, estate bonds safeguard the interests of the estate and your beneficiaries in accordance with state law. At Colonial, a leading national provider of all types of fiduciary bonds, the steps to obtaining an estate and other bonds are easy: get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond right from anywhere—even the law office. Obtain Estate Bonds Here.
Good To Know
In addition to working with your lawyer to establish a will and or trust, it’s important to also have medical proxies and powers of attorney. As lawyers observe, it is possible—and advisable to have the medical proxies and powers of attorney drawn up for both of the states in which you spend time. That way, wherever you are when unforeseen events or complications strike, your designees will be able to step in to help with healthcare and financial decisions, in accordance with the intentions expressed in your documents.
News for Estate Planning Attorneys
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