Listen to Lawrence Letter: Should I update my documents in 2 states if I’m a snowbird?

May 27, 2022
Dear Clients and Friends:
Here is a common question from one of my longtime snowbird clients:
I hope this email finds you well. My family has been clients of yours and I always read your emails. I recently moved to SC but maintain a home on LI, which I mainly use in the summer. For tax purposes, I am a full-time resident of SC.  As it has been some time since I updated my wills, power of attorney, etc. I thought now would be a good time. My question is whether that should be done down here or in NY or both? Thank you.
New York is the center of the universe. So wouldn’t it be nice if New Yorkers did not have to live in another state because of the need to escape its high taxes? On the other hand, isn’t it nice that we have more government benefits and services because we pay higher taxes? I guess you pay for what you get. Nevertheless, I get why people, especially retirees, are leaving New York in droves. To be taxed in another state, all you have to do is show that you live in the other state. You prove this by actually living in the other state for at least 6 months and a day, voting from there, filing your income taxes from there, and changing your driver’s license to down there. I see this scenario every day.
So you moved and did everything necessary to be a resident of another state, like South Carolina. What changes should you make to your estate planning? The answer may be nothing, but it is worth it to find out. To start, know that all of your New York documents will be valid in the other state. This is how we function to keep the country together. Your New York will can be probated in the new state. Your trust will be honored, as will your power of attorney and health care proxy.
But each state has nuances in its laws. So make an appointment to see an elder law/estate planning attorney in the new state for a review. But be careful of the unscrupulous who want to “sell” you a whole new plan when you really don’t need it, especially when it comes to your wills and trusts. If changes do need to be made, we can do them or they can do them, it probably won’t matter, but assess what the attorney in the other state says and use your judgment.  On the other hand, it may be wise to have a power of attorney and health care proxy in both states, as these documents may need to be used at a moment’s notice at a local bank or hospital, respectively and you may want a document that the locals will quickly recognize.
Lastly, many of my clients who move to other states come back at the end of their lives to be closer to their children. If this is probable, then this is another reason to continue to update your documents in New York, albeit using an address from another state for now.
I hope this helps! Please forward this information to your friends and relatives to share these informative answers to some very commonly asked questions.
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Stay safe!
Until next time…
peace, health and happiness,
Lawrence Eric Davidow