Top Considerations for Snowbirds When Creating a Will and Trust

As snowbirds, individuals who migrate seasonally to warmer climates during the winter months, there are unique considerations to keep in mind when it comes to estate planning. Crafting a will and establishing a trust are crucial steps to ensure that your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes, especially when you split your time between different locations. In this blog, we’ll explore the top considerations for snowbirds when creating a will and trust.

Understanding the Need for Estate Planning

Estate planning is essential for everyone, regardless of their living situation. However, for snowbirds who own property in multiple states or countries, the complexities can be heightened. Without proper planning, your assets could be subject to probate in each jurisdiction where you own property, leading to delays, additional expenses, and potential disputes among heirs.

Selecting the Right Executor and Trustee

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when creating a will and trust is choosing an executor and trustee to oversee the distribution of your assets. These individuals should be trustworthy, organized, and capable of carrying out your wishes. For snowbirds, it may be wise to select someone who is familiar with the laws and requirements of each jurisdiction where you hold assets.

Determining Asset Ownership

Before drafting your will and trust, it’s essential to clarify how your assets are owned. For example, if you jointly own property with your spouse, it may pass directly to them upon your death, bypassing the need for probate. Understanding the implications of different types of ownership, such as joint tenancy or tenancy in common, can help you make informed decisions about how to structure your estate plan.

Addressing Tax Implications

Tax laws vary from one jurisdiction to another, and failing to account for these differences can have significant consequences for your estate. By working with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney, you can explore strategies to minimize taxes on your assets, such as setting up trusts or making strategic gifts during your lifetime. Additionally, certain states have their own estate or inheritance taxes that may apply to your estate, further underscoring the importance of careful planning.

Updating Beneficiary Designations

In addition to your will and trust, it’s essential to review and update beneficiary designations on accounts such as retirement plans, life insurance policies, and bank accounts. These designations override any instructions in your will, so it’s crucial to ensure they reflect your current wishes. Failing to update beneficiary designations could result in unintended consequences, such as assets passing to an ex-spouse or deceased family member.

Considering Healthcare Directives

Estate planning isn’t just about distributing assets—it also involves planning for incapacity and end-of-life care. Snowbirds should have advance directives in place, such as a durable power of attorney for finances and a healthcare proxy, to designate someone to make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated. These documents should comply with the laws of each jurisdiction where you spend significant time.

Protecting Digital Assets

In today’s digital age, many of our assets are stored online, from social media accounts to cryptocurrency holdings. When creating your will and trust, don’t forget to account for these digital assets and provide instructions for accessing them. Consider creating a digital inventory that lists all of your online accounts and passwords and specifies how you want them to be handled after your death.

Choosing a Qualified Estate Planning Attorney

Given the complexities of estate planning, especially for snowbirds with assets in multiple jurisdictions, it’s essential to seek guidance from a qualified attorney who specializes in this area of law. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you navigate the legal intricacies, minimize taxes, and ensure that your wishes are carried out effectively. When selecting an attorney, look for someone with expertise in both estate planning and the laws of the states or countries where you own property.

Regularly Reviewing and Updating Your Estate Plan

Finally, estate planning is not a one-time event—it’s an ongoing process that should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in your life circumstances and the law. As a snowbird, you may experience significant changes, such as buying or selling property, getting married or divorced, or welcoming new grandchildren into your family. By staying proactive and keeping your estate plan current, you can protect your assets and provide for your loved ones effectively.


Snowbirds face unique estate planning challenges due to their seasonal lifestyle and ownership of property in multiple jurisdictions. By carefully considering these factors and working with a qualified estate planning attorney, you can create a will and trust that effectively protects your assets and ensures your wishes are carried out, no matter where life takes you.

Contact Us Today

Our team here at The Law Offices of Brandon White, P.L.L.C. understands the unique estate planning challenges that snowbirds face, and we’re here to help you navigate them with confidence. Whether you’re in need of a comprehensive estate plan, assistance with probate, or guidance on minimizing taxes, we have the expertise and experience to meet your needs. Don’t leave your legacy to chance—reach out to us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward securing your future.

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