Valuable advice for clients who move between residences

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Ron Eppler lives in Michigan, but many of his long-time clients reside at least part of the time in Florida.

“Most of them have bought a second home,” says Eppler, who is managing director of investments at The Weissman Eppler Investment Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in Ann Arbor, Mich.

For tax purposes, because Florida has no income tax, those clients often want to establish residency in Florida. But that means giving up primary residency exemptions on Michigan property taxes.

Michigan, as is the case with other states, conducts annual audits to determine eligibility for its primary residency exemption, requiring property owners to fill out questionnaires.

Eppler wants to make sure that his retiring clients who plan to have homes in two different states declare their residency in the state that best fits their tax purposes and strategies.

Although he usually recommends that they get advice about that issue from a CPA, saying that “we don’t play tax adviser,” he then follows up to be sure that they prepare for any residency audits and take steps to establish residency in their chosen state.

Eppler makes sure that clients take even the simple steps to establish residency such as getting a driver’s license and opening a bank account in the new state.

“If they do those things they are usually going to be OK,” he says.

The tax implications, however, are just one piece of the puzzle that advisers must help clients assemble if those clients plan as part of their retirement to have homes in two or more states.

Eppler also makes sure that his clients who plan to live part of the year outside Michigan consider each state’s health care and insurance costs.

Long-term-care costs may vary from as little as $32,000 yearly in some states (generally the Southeast) to $56,000 annually in California and parts of the Northeast, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Marie Moore an adviser, family wealth director and managing director of The Moore Group at Morgan Stanley in Dallas, agrees that clients who are retiring and considering residing in multiple states must consider taxes and health care issues, but she also focuses on estate planning questions.

She recommends that clients establish a limited partnership in their state of residence and place all out of state property in that partnership so their heirs “don’t have to go to probate court in each state where property is owned.”

“You usually do that in your primary residence state,” Moore says.

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Retirement readiness Retirement planning Tax planning