This is the time of year when people who head south to avoid New Jersey winters start making their plans. Most snowbirds do not include legal reviews on their to-do list, but they should at least once.It is important to make sure what state is your legal residency. Some factors used to determine residency include the amount of time spent in each state, your mailing address, what state issues your driver’s license, where your car is registered, where you vote and what address you use to file your income taxes.
However, even if Florida is your state of residence, that does not mean you should not consider New Jersey laws. Where do you plan on living in the future and where do you think you’ll receive healthcare? If you move south upon retirement but plan on heading back north when you are faced with health issues and need the support of family members, you need to consider those things when making your estate plan.
The laws governing Medicaid vary from state to state and the asset protection strategies employed in each state vary. Therefore, it is important to consult an attorney wherever you are likely to apply.
There are also differences in the law for powers of attorney and advance directives, including health care proxies and living will documents. These are important documents and you’ll want to be sure they will work in both states.
The language listed in your power of attorney will differ state by state as well. For instance, Florida requires real property to be identified in the document in order to allow an agent to sell it. In addition, if your agent is helping you with long-term care planning, you need to make sure that your power of attorney includes all possible powers your agent may need, regardless of whether you are paying privately or applying for Medicaid to cover costs.
Talk with an estate planning attorney about your travel plans and make sure that your documents are all in order, before taking off for a warm winter.