Senior Living – Financial issues – Two State Living

Marla Brill pointed out a number of financial issues for those involved in two state (two country) living between seasons. The link to her article in Yahoo finance is posted herein. Those of you who live a two state lifestyle (“snowbirds” is the classic example) face a number of issues worth reviewing.

Health insurance – examine your health care coverage (especially restrictions contained in Medicare Advantage programs, aka Part C Medicare) and determine if your HMO or PPO provides coverage in your second resident state. Medicare supplemental coverage may be less restrictive on coverage. Typically, out of area coverage is a part of medicare supplemental coverage, but not all medicare supplemental plans cover foreign travel.  Depending on the area within the United States it may be possible to obtain guest memberships in HMOs and PPOs for stays exceeding 90 days.

Taxes –  Determine residency for state tax reporting requires looking at vehicle registration, voter registration, professional licensure, mailing address, the number of days spent, and other facts.  The primary motivation is locating the lowest tax rate state. Tax planning should include estate tax. Consultation with a CPA and attorney is critical to avoid traps.

Insurance  (especially vehicle) – Talk with your insurance representative when seeking to reduce insurance costs while absent from one state. Also, review lender or other lien holder requirements prior to suspending coverage to ensure debt compliance. Suspending, or cancelling and reinstating coverage may be required if state requirements include mandatory insurance on any registered vehicle.

Legal documents/estate planning – the most desirable position is finding an attorney licensed in both resident states. A high likelihood exists for having two sets of estate planning documents, one for each state you inhabit.  Out of state documents like advance directives, powers of attorney, and trust documents may not be accepted in resident states unless drafted to conform to the state statute for such documents.  Holding real estate in non trust format may necessitate probate court filing to transfer title. Planning with a CPA and legal counsel is critical to minimize administrative cost and effort.

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