Tips on Maintaining a Snowbird Lifestyle

April 18, 2018

Every year many people flock from colder regions of the United States and Canada to sunny locations in Arizona, Florida and other states. To these snowbirds, seasonal migration is a way of having their cake and eating too – an opportunity to stay in touch with family and friends, while also enjoying a change of scenery and relief from extremely cold weather. While there are many benefits to being a snowbird, there are also challenges to consider. Before you head back up north for the summer, consider some ways you can improve the snowbird lifestyle:

Reduce Energy Costs

    • Water heater: Turn off the circuit breaker to the heater
    • Cable or satellite boxes: Turn off or unplug to avoid paying for energy you are not using
    • Dishwasher: Clean it out and leave the door open
    • Small appliances and electronics: Unplug. For safety reasons, you may want to place timers on indoor lights.
    • Refrigerators:
      • If you want to keep your refrigerator on, set it at its warmest setting.
      • If you prefer to keep your refrigerator off, make sure to clean the interior properly and leave doors open. Turn off the circuit breaker to the refrigerator. Take out all consumables from the freezer and the refrigerator, and leave doors open.
      • If you have an automatic ice maker, turn it off.
    • Washing Machine: Leave the lid open

Mail and Newspapers
You can use e-mail and online bill pay for most of your communication and bill-paying needs, but there are still a few items you will receive via mail. There are a few options for forwarding mail, including USPS forwarding, third-party mail forwarding services and having a family-member or neighbor forward mail to you in batches. The best option for you depends on whether you will be staying at the same destination.
You should also stop your newspaper delivery service while you are away, and ask a friendly neighbor to remove free community papers and flyers.

Location restrictions of many Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) can make them impractical for snowbird lifestyles. With an HMO, patients are typically restricted to network Doctors in a limited area, except in an emergency. A PPO may allow visits to out of network health care professionals, but require higher co-pays. One alternative would be traditional insurance accepted anywhere in the U.S., but it is likely to be more expensive. Another option is “guest memberships” with certain HMOs and PPOs that offer services at other locations to people who are outside of their network.

Tax and Legal Issues
You may have to pay more in taxes. Depending on how much time you reside in your snowbird home, you may end up paying income taxes in two states. States have varying rules on residency and inheritance taxes. If you don’t plan to return home before April 17, you’ll need to bring your income tax documents with you.

In addition, having advance directives such as a power of attorney or living will drawn up by lawyers licensed in both states is a good way to avoid complications.  This is because local financial institutions may not honor an out-of-state document. For snowbirds with homes in two distant jurisdictions it is best to keep them in a revocable trust so that heirs do not have to deal with probate in two separate states.

No matter, whether you are a Snowbird or a Flamingo, at OC Estate & Elder Law we help travelling and local families get their legal affairs in order. For legal concerns, call us today at (954) 251-0332 or for a free consultation.