Mullen and Iannarone, P.C.
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Serving the legal needs of corporations, individuals and
families of Suffolk County since 1972

Estate planning for snowbirds

People who are lucky enough to own a property in New York and another property in a state with a warmer climate are sometimes called 'snowbirds." Heading south for the winter is a retirement lifestyle that many people enjoy because they can avoid extreme cold. However, it is important that they understand the estate planning ramifications of living in two states.

Even if people spend exactly half of the year in one state and half of the year in another state, they cannot be a legal resident of two states at once. For estate tax and other legal purposes, a snowbird has one home and one vacation residence. An easy way to determine which state a snowbird is a resident of is to ask where the snowbird is registered to vote.

When people die, their estate will be taxed according to the laws in their home state, and their beneficiaries will go through probate court in their home state. In some cases, an estate that has real estate in multiple states will be probated in more than one state. During the estate planning process, people may want to make sure that they are a resident of a state with beneficial estate tax laws. For example, Florida does not impose an estate tax on its residents.

Though Florida has no estate tax, the state does have other taxes that could affect a resident's estate plan. A person who has properties in New York and another state may want to talk to an estate planning lawyer about what state they should claim residency in and the best way to set up their estate plan.

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