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What Personal Representatives of Estates Should Know About Probate for Snowbirds


So, your parents just told you that they plan to designate you as personal representative of your estate.  You will have a chance to talk to them about their estate plan in more detail soon, because they are just about to drive back to Maryland from Florida, where they have just finished spending the winter, as they do every year.  The snowbird life is great for seniors, but it makes things more complicated for the personal representative of their estate.  What your parents decide to do with their time and property is ultimately their decision, not yours, but you can save everyone a lot of stress and money if your parents have all their ducks in a row regarding snowbird estate plans.  If you cannot summon the courage to ask your parents for more details about their estate plan, you and your Washington DC probate lawyer could have your work cut out for you.

The Weather May Be Nicer in Florida, but Maryland Is Home

There is no legal definition of the term “snowbird,” but the term usually refers to seniors who spend part of the year in a state with a temperate climate, such as Maryland, and the other part of the year in Florida or a location with similarly sunny weather.  Florida is an especially popular destination for retirees because it does not have estate tax, which means that, in theory, probate is less expensive in Florida.

After spending an entire winter in Florida, it becomes glaringly obvious that Maryland is home.  Even if you miss out on the part of the year where there are thunderstorms every day and at least one hurricane or tropical storm watch per season, it is obvious that the climate in Florida, meteorologically and otherwise, is just too volatile.  Even if the increasing population of non-native reptile species, from green iguanas to Nile monitor lizards, does not get you, the chances that a Florida Man will sweet talk you out of your life’s savings in furtherance of a crime is much greater in Florida than it is in Maryland.  Besides, unless you are loaded with money, Maryland probate is not all that expensive.

It is your parents’ choice whether they want to make Maryland or Florida their legal home, but they should be unambiguous in their choice.  If you, a Maryland resident, are to be the personal representative of their estate, they should choose Maryland, but if they choose Florida, a Florida resident should be the personal representative.  Their voter registration and driver’s licenses should be in their state of domicile.  If they own property in more than one state, then they should transfer the property in their non-residential state to a revocable trust, so it does not have to go through probate.

Contact Tobin O’Connor & Ewing About Probate of a Snowbird’s Estate

A Washington, D.C. probate attorney can help you if you are the personal representative of the estate of someone who spent only part of the year in Maryland.  Contact Tobin, O’Connor & Ewing for help.




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