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Estate planning consideration for snowbirds

After people in Texas retire, they find that they have a great deal more flexibility in their life -- including where they choose to live. Rather than starting over completely new, some people opt to become so-called "snowbirds." Snowbirds are people who divide their time between two or more locations, often in an effort to avoid extreme weather. While a satisfying arrangement for many, it can create additional complications for estate planning.

People who live in multiple locations often own property in different states. In some cases, they may have bank accounts and vehicles registered in different states. Regardless of their presence, however, one location is considered their legal residence. Which state is considered a legal residence may have an impact on a person's estate.

For example, some states have an estate tax. Massachusetts has a tax for estates valued over $1 million while New Hampshire and Florida have no tax. A person may base their choice for their legal residence on whether their estate will have to pay tax upon his or her passing. Additionally, those who own property in multiple states may want to consider a trust. Without one, family members may have to go through probate in each state in order to settle the estate.

It may be tempting for some people to take tasks related to estate planning into their own hands. However, doing so could result in added complications for surviving family members due to the costs and expense of a probate or a successfully challenged will. An experienced attorney can help people in Texas through the process, including helping to decide the best place for establishing legal residence.

Source: CBS Boston, "Snowbirds: Protecting Your Estate While Living In Two States", Dee Lee, Oct. 14, 2016

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