Attention Snowbirds!

Arizona is a state perfect for snowbirds because of the warm weather all year round. Many older adults from cold weather states flock to Arizona for the winter months, and tend to own property (i.e., pay taxes) in both states they reside in. Being an older taxpayer in two states is an especially strong reason to be on top of your estate plan. Read this article explaining everything you need to know on the topic.

BOSTON (CBS) – Being a snowbird like my Juncos, six months south and six months north, could be a great life style in retirement but one place will need to be your legal residence. Basically, where are you from? Or even easier, where do you have the right to vote?

And it’s the laws of that state which will dictate your estate planning. If you have lots of money you will want to decide which state would be advantageous to die in.

The Federal exemption, the amount you can give away without incurring federal estate taxes this year, is $5,450,000. So most individuals dying between now and December need only worry about state estate taxes.

Check the estate tax laws of the state you are considering moving to. Many states do implement an estate tax or an inheritance tax upon the death of their wealthy residents.

Massachusetts changed their estate laws several years ago and the exemption is now $1 million. So if your estate is larger than $1 million you could owe Massachusetts estate taxes.

Florida, always wanting to lure more residents from the north, does not have an estate tax per say. They do, however, have other taxes due upon your death. New Hampshire has no estate tax.

You may own property and pay real estate taxes in both states, have bank accounts in both states, register cars in both states, buy insurance in both states but you really only live in one state and you are visiting the other state.

Owning property in different states may require your heirs to go through the probate process upon your death in more than one state. Setting up a trust and having the trust own the real estate may make the transfer of property easier upon your death.

Snowbirds should also consider executing a Durable Power of Attorney for each state so if they do need legal or financial decisions made by another the documents are in place to help. This is a must do if you have property or bank accounts in both states.


You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

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The Important Step That’s Sometimes Forgetten

If you are getting remarried there are a few additional things you need to consider since your first marriage. One of those things is changing your estate plan and will. Modifications need to be made noting of changes since your divorce and if you are gaining step-children that you want involved. Check out this informative article highlighting what else you should consider regarding your estate plan.

Revise your power of attorney and health care directives. More documents to update, if you don’t want an ex-spouse as your agent. Already switched? “Make sure the power of attorney lists who they want as guardian,” said Scroggin. Otherwise, he said, a new spouse or other relative may be able to successfully petition a court for guardianship even if he or she is not the listed agent on the power of attorney.

Watch titling. Another case where your will won’t matter: Assets titled as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, tenancy by the entirety or community property with rights of survivorship pass automatically to the surviving owner. Review existing assets to ensure ties with an ex-spouse are severed, Fosselman said.

If you want certain accounts or property to go to someone other than your spouse, title those accordingly, he said — or keep them separate as you merge finances.

Use prenups, postnups and waivers. Such agreements can often be worded to limit the rights automatically afforded to spouses, such as the right to take an elective share in your estate even if they are not mentioned in the will.

Account for personal property. Tangible personal property often ends up with the new spouse. If you want to make sure your family heirlooms or other items of sentimental value go to a specific person, specify that in your will, Scroggin said. But he warned that even with a mention, it can be hard for heirs to prove which property you intended to pass on.