By Bernard A. Krooks, Esq.
Many New Yorkers have embraced a decidedly mobile lifestyle. They think nothing of seasonal migrations in search of temperate weather. Their families may be far-flung, prompting frequent out-of-state visits or they may be trying out a potential retirement spot. We account for the highest percentage of Florida's temporary residents, often opting to call it home.
But while it's simple to buy a plane ticket and have the mail forwarded, legal documents don't always cross state lines so easily. Differences in state law can have big implications for estate planning and long-term care. In some cases, one jurisdiction may not even recognize documents drafted elsewhere due to differences in execution requirements. And you could face unexpected tax bills as governments struggle to fill their depleted coffers.
Generally speaking, spending 183 or more days per year in a location will make you subject to local residency requirements. If you maintain your legal residence in one state for purposes of voting and taxation, but spend significant time elsewhere, it pays to do some contingency planning.
At a minimum, you should discuss your residency situation when you meet with your attorney to review your will, trusts and other important estate planning instruments. It may be wise to consult an attorney in each state to ensure that you're in compliance with all regulations and that you take full advantage of any favorable differences. I've had an increasing number of clients ask about the benefits of having attorneys collaborate across jurisdictions. Parents had begun spending more time in Florida, or due to frailty, were moving back to New York to be closer to family, and they didn't want to suddenly discover that careful estate planning had been rendered invalid.
While a well-drafted trust can stipulate that it be administered according to the laws of the originating state, it may not be advisable to have one state interpret the statutes of another. Other documents may prove even more challenging. An advance directive can become entangled by something as seemingly trivial as the number of witnesses to your signature. As a result, doctors and hospitals may fail to respect living wills or health care proxies. Banks may not recognize financial powers of attorney. The result could be chaos when you're least prepared to cope. Read more...