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Sunday, October 1, 2017

4 Tips for Snowbirds

After decades of braving the Michigan winters, you are entitled to spend weeks or months of the winter season in a warmer climate. You’ve earned it! Just make sure you know how spending some time down South or out West will impact your estate plan. Here are a few tips and tricks to consider.

Let’s get the morbid tip out of the way first.

If you plan on spending an extended period of time away from home each year, it is a good idea to pre-plan your funeral, and make sure your family knows what your burial wishes are.

Heaven forbid you pass away in Arizona in February. Do you want to be buried there? If not, how and when should you be transported back to Michigan? Should your family wait to hold a memorial service until later in the spring?

Address this issue now so you can relax and enjoy your time away.

Less morbid, but still not the fun stuff.

Make sure you always travel with a copy of your health care advance directive. This will give health care provides some basic guidelines, and empower a trusted family member or friend to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them for yourself.

Use trusts to your advantage.

Consider putting your vacation property into a trust. This can help you pass it on more easily, but it can also help you manage the property now.

If you have friends and family that would also like to use your vacation property, putting the property in trust can head off disputes over use of the property. You can write rules like no parties, no smoking, no pets into your trust documents. Then, if someone is unhappy and confronts you about your strict policies, you can blame your attorney and keep the peace.

Be clear about which state you consider your home.

You can own property or live in several different states, but only one state is considered your legal domicile or home. Think carefully about which state you want to be a legal resident of and then make your plans around that decision.

While your heart may always belong to Michigan, you may want to make your legal domicile elsewhere. Some states have no income tax, while others have special tax programs that benefit retirement income. Other states have great health care systems.

If you have questions about establishing a legal domicile, or any of these other tips, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced estate planning attorney.


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