Estate Planning for Snowbirds

Having your power of attorney and health care proxy follow both states’ rules can help your designees avoid hassles.

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Question: I bought a condo in another state and plan to live there for a few months or more each year. Will my current will and other estate-planning documents apply in both states? --J.G, Springfield, Mass.Answer:

Your existing legal documents, including your will, should be valid in your new state, no matter how you split your time. But having your power of attorney and health care proxy follow both states’ rules can help your designees avoid hassles if and when they try to use them. For instance, if one state requires two witnesses plus a notary for your power of attorney and the other requires only that the form be notarized, follow the rules for the stricter state, says Tracy Craig, of Mirick O’Connell in Worcester, Mass. Or have a separate power of attorney and advance directive for each state, says Bernie Krooks, of Littman Krooks in New York. (You can have only one will.) Make them consistent, and have your attorney review both sets of documents.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.