Estate Planning For Part-Time Florida Residents
Florida is a nearly perfect location for retirees. Everywhere you look, you find restaurants offering early bird specials, and you never have to shovel snow to get there. The sea breeze keeps the weather mild for most of the year, and your own backyard is a great place not only for bird watching, but also for reptile watching. Florida is convenient not only for you, but also for the beneficiaries of your will, because it is among the states that do not charge an estate tax. Of course, that is only one side of Florida’s reputation. It isn’t always sunny in the Sunshine State. In the summer there are those terrifying lightning storms every afternoon, and almost every hurricane season, a storm system comes close enough to Florida to cause tropical storm force winds. If you only spend part of the year in Florida, you can have the best of both worlds, but having the best of both worlds requires some planning. A Tampa estate planning attorney can help you implement your plans to spend the winters in Florida and the summers in a state with a more temperate climate.
Estate Planning Considerations for Snowbirds
One of the cardinal rules of estate planning is that you should put your plans in writing. If you divide your time between two or more states, you should indicate in your will which state is your legal domicile, and therefore which state’s courts have jurisdiction to administer your estate. You should also create a paper trail in your state of domicile which shows that you are a legal resident of this state. Perhaps you have been taking extended vacations to Florida for years, ever since you first started easing into retirement, but if you do not want to leave any doubts for the probate court about whether Florida is your official home, you should take a few additional steps. Get a Florida driver’s license; if you don’t drive, get a state ID card from the DMV. Register to vote in Florida. You should also indicate in your will a Florida resident who should serve as personal representative of your estate. If you are single or widowed and do not have any family members living in Florida, an estate planning lawyer is a good choice.
Probate is considerably more complicated if you own real estate properties in more than one state. One of the most straightforward ways to avoid these complications is to transfer your real estate properties, at least the ones that are not in Florida, to a revocable trust. This way, the properties do not become part of your estate for purposes of probate; instead, they pass directly to the beneficiary. In fact, transferring property to a revocable trust is a wise estate planning move even if all of your property is in Florida.
Contact David Toback With Questions About the Snowbird Life
A Central Florida estate planning lawyer can help you establish your domicile in Florida even if you spend the summers elsewhere. Contact David Toback in Tampa, Florida to set up a consultation.