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Estate Planning for Snowbirds and Other Dual Residents

By July 14, 2013Estate Planning

I was lucky enough to be a snowbird before reaching my teenage years; I spent the school year in sunny Arizona and the summers in idyllic Minnesota.  I hope to one day replicate my childhood lifestyle.  Those who enjoy winters in a warm southern state and summers in a cool Northern state have a different set of estate planning considerations to go along with the great weather.  First and foremost, snowbirds must decide which state to claim as legal domicile.  This is important because the laws of the domiciliary state can dictate estate planning strategies.

A person dividing their time according to season can own property in both states, pay taxes in each state, and have insurance and other accoutrements in both states.  However, only one state may be designated as domicile or residence.  In making that decision, look to which state would be most advantageous to die a resident of.  Checking the estate tax laws of the state you are considering as your domicile may help make your decision.  Several states are presently implementing an estate tax upon the death of their wealthy residents.

There are, of course several other considerations for snowbirds to make with respect to estate planning.  For instance, owning property in different states often times requires heirs to go through the probate process in more than one state.  Creating a trust and having the trust own any real estate may make the transfer of property easier upon death.  Also, only a select number of states are community property states, which could play a role in your decision regarding which state to use as your domicile residence.

There are many other factors snowbirds must consider- sitting down with an experienced estate planning attorney is the first step in making sure your plan is as advantageous as your weather!

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

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  • Benjamin Kessner says:

    MH established my trust and revised it recently. I am a \”snowbird\” and have homes in both scottsdale and New York City.Which state should I consider as my legal residence for income tax and estate purposes?

    • Morris, Hall & Kinghorn says:

      Benjamin, please contact our office at 888.804.5340 so we can look closer at your current documents and have an attorney speak with you regarding your situation. They may have to take a look into New York law to let you know which would be more beneficial for you. We would be happy to help you with that!

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