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Laws vary from state to state, so it would be wise to consult with an estate planning attorney on where you stand legally.

Many people who retire prefer to reside in a warmer climate in the winter if they reside in a colder climate the rest of the year. However, before they head south, it would be wise to address some legal matters, according to TBR Newsmedia in “Estate planning tips for snowbirds“.

You’ll need to determine whether you should see an attorney in your home state or in your winter residence if you want to create estate planning documents and plan for care in the future.

In what state are you a legal resident? Some factors used to determine residency include the amount of time spent in each state, your mailing address, what state issues your driver’s license, where your car is registered, where you vote and what address you use to file your income taxes.

Once you determine your state of residence, there are other considerations. Where do you plan on living in the future and where do you think you’ll receive healthcare? If you move south upon retirement but plan on heading back north when you are faced with health issues and need the support of family members, you need to consider those things when making your estate plan.

The laws governing Medicaid vary from state to state. You should have your documents reviewed by attorneys in both your northern and southern residences, to be sure that they comply with the law in both places.

There are also differences in the law for powers of attorney and advance directives, including health care proxies. These are important documents and you’ll want to be sure they will work in both states.

For instance, in New York State, the person who is named to make medical decisions is called your agent while that same role is called a surrogate in Florida. The term used under the law to name a default agent is proxy in Florida. Although it seems simple, it could lead to confusion and a delay in decision-making at a time when minutes count.

The language listed in your power of attorney will differ state by state as well. If your agent is helping you with long-term care planning, this becomes especially important. You need to make sure that your power of attorney includes all possible powers your agent may need, regardless of whether you are paying privately or applying for Medicaid to cover costs.

Reference: TBR Newsmedia (Sep. 3, 2018) Estate planning tips for snowbirds

For more information on elder law and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.