If you are one of Florida’s snowbirds who “flock” to the Sunshine State during the winter months but have a primary residence elsewhere, you may be placing your loved ones and beneficiaries in a precarious and tricky situation upon your passing. This situation all has to do with jurisdiction and the powers of the courts.
Probate proceedings and similar legal actions are filed in state courts and governed by state laws. However, every state in the United States is a sovereign entity and it is not subject to the laws of any other state. For example, if you are pulled over and ticketed for speeding in Florida, it would not matter what Georgia’s or South Carolina’s speeding laws are. Florida would apply and enforce Florida law.
Additionally, absent agreements between the states on issues such as child support, one state cannot enter orders affecting property located in another state. So, for snowbirds, if your main home is in Minnesota and you have an estate plan there, that plan may not address your winter home in Florida.
Unraveling the Mess of Property in Multiple States
This should not dissuade you from owning property in multiple states if that is what you desire to do. Instead, this situation is a call to think through all the states in which you have property and plan for how they should be addressed in the event of your passing. There are two general ways to approach this problem:
Separate Estate Plans for Each State
One option would be to create a will or other estate plan for every state in which you have property. So if you have property in both Florida and Minnesota, you would create a will in Minnesota to address the property you have there and a separate will in Florida to cover the property located there. As you might expect, though, this option can be confusing and expensive.
One Estate Plan Addresses All States
Another option would be to find the state in which you have property that has laws favorable to you and your heirs and beneficiaries and create a trust in that state. Then, your property can be titled in the name of the trust. When you pass, if your Minnesota property is titled in the name of a trust you set up in Florida, your Florida trust owns the property and it can be used by your beneficiaries without the need for complicated probate proceedings in that state.
Contact Centonzio Law for Your Estate Planning Needs
No matter how complex or simple your situation might be, Centonzio Law is here to help you protect your assets and look after your loved ones. We create comprehensive estate plans that provide certainty and peace of mind for you and your family. Experience what professional and personalized estate planning can do for you by calling Centonzio Law at (727) 900-7290 today. You can also contact us online for assistance and request a meeting with us.