An Estate Plan for Snowbirds
Hi, I’m Jordan Flake. I am an attorney with Clear Counsel Law Group. I focus primarily in estate planning, and today we have a question here from one of our clients. It says, what if you have an estate plan that is out of state, but then you buy a condominium in Nevada to retire and make Nevada your long-term residence? Do you need a new estate plan? Could Nevada estate plan cover out of state assets, such as those that you may have left in Illinois?
I’m going to try to answer this question. Basically the idea is that when you move to a new state, you probably should as a good practice meet with an estate planning attorney in that state. I’m going to talk about why that might be a good idea.
Also, I’m going to talk about how assets work in a revocable estate plan and why it’s okay owning assets in different states, and how to make that function.
Updating Your Estate Plan After Moving to Nevada
As you can imagine, I practice here in Nevada, and I get a lot of retirees who move here from other states around the country. Often times, they’ll buy a property here, such as in the question that was asked, and yet often times, they’ll leave property in their former state as well.
In fact, a really common scenario is these self-described snowbirds. What a snowbird is, it’s someone who lives off in Wisconsin during the summer months, when it’s nice and temperate, and then when it gets freezing cold in Wisconsin, the snowbirds move here to Las Vegas, and they spend maybe roughly from November to March where it’s temperate here in Las Vegas, living at their condo here.
I meet with these individuals and they say, “Hey, Jordan, we have changed our long term residence. We really intend to retire in Las Vegas, but we still have our house back in Wisconsin that we go to every summer. Where should we do our estate planning and why?”
My recommendation is to first answer the question, which is really going to be your state of residence? As soon as you answer that question, if it’s Nevada, then you should probably do your estate planning in Nevada. If it’s Wisconsin, then possibly do your estate planning in Wisconsin.
The reason why a lot of people will opt to have Nevada be their estate planning destination is because Nevada has really good robust estate planning laws that are very highly developed, to the point that different provisions have been tested here in the court setting, which means that as an estate planning attorney, we can have the confidence to implement various provisions that have undergone robust testing at the court level, so that we know they’re highly enforceable.
We actually have a lot of clients who live out of state who opt to do their estate planning here, precisely because Nevada’s estate planning laws are so favorable and so protective of the clients and the grantors in these situations.
I would say that if you intend to make Nevada your long-term residence, then the answer is very easy. You should do a Nevada estate plan. Even if you don’t, you may still wish to consider it because Nevada has better laws.
That of course raises the question, let’s say I’m intending to make Wisconsin my long-term residence. How can I do a Nevada estate plan? Are estate plans enforceable across state lines? The answer is generally yes. Generally, states will give effect to legal documents created in other states. The mere passage from one state to another does not automatically nullify estate planning documents. I know that’s true of Nevada, and I’m pretty sure it’s true of every single state in the United States.
Basically, if you want to think of it another way, imagine you and your buddy both lived in California at the time, had an agreement that he would paint all your houses for $50,000, and you basically have this agreement for the next 3 years, your buddy’s going to paint all your houses, any houses that you own, for $50,000, and you both live in California at the time of that agreement.
Both of you decide to move to Nevada, and the question is, is the agreement that you made in California still enforceable in Nevada? The answer is yes, that contract will go from one state across state lines and still be legally enforceable. That’s true of your estate planning as well. The things that you put in place in one state are generally going to be enforceable in the next state.
It is a little bit different because each state has different laws with how little tiny particulars will arise, or with how probate is handled for example, so that’s why you’ll definitely want to have your estate plan reviewed by an attorney in the state where you intend to make that state your personal long-term residence.
Developing an Estate Plan with Property in Multiple Jurisdictions
Come see us. If you have property in Nevada, we can get you set up with a Nevada estate plan. The second part of this question, let’s say you do have a property in Nevada and you do make Nevada your long term residence, and you do have a condo here, and you have transferred that into your estate planning, and that condo now becomes part of your estate plan. What do we do with the summer house in Wisconsin? The answer is very simple. If we create a Nevada estate plan, you can think of it like a box. We create that box and we transfer some of your assets into that box. There’s nothing about the fact that that house is owned in Wisconsin that prevents us from taking that house and transferring it into the Nevada trust. There’s really nothing about that that prevents it.
Regularly, as estate planning attorneys, we’ll sit down and meet with clients who have assets in various states and properties and various states. What we’ll do is we’ll go request a deed from that state and we’ll copy down the legal description and we’ll prepare a deed for that state. We’ll send it out saying, my Wisconsin summer house now is to be transferred into the Johnson family trust, or the Johnson estate planning. You definitely can have a Nevada trust that owns property in various states.
If you’re in either of these situations, if you’re maybe mixing residence between 2 states like Wisconsin and Nevada, and you’re not sure where to do your estate planning, please come talk to me. If you’re a Nevada resident and you have property that’s outside of the state, and you want to make sure it passes according to your wishes, please come see me. Those are both questions that we handle very often. They’re both things for which we can do a complimentary consultation, and please give us a call, set up a consultation, and we’ll be happy to help you out with this. Thanks so much.