Estate Strategies: Michigan Snow Birds in Florida

As warm weather returns to Michigan, so too do our State’s snow birds. While in Florida, some of you may have purchased assets or developed relationships with health care professionals. Others of you may have pondered moving to Florida full time or considered investing in Florida real estate. As such, Spring is the perfect time to evaluate your life at the other end of the I-75 corridor and ensure that your current estate plan protects your interests in the Sunshine State.

One important issue to consider is whether you have the appropriate Power of Attorney (POA) documents in place. Most of you likely have a Michigan Durable Power of Attorney and/or a Patient Advocate Designation. However, do you also have the Florida equivalents of these important documents?

Powers of Attorney are used to make important decisions that affect your assets, medical treatment and/or estate. In many cases, these decisions are incredibly time sensitive. For example, let’s assume that you have been admitted to a Florida hospital and your daughter is attempting to make decisions related to your care under a Michigan Patient Advocate Designation. Under Florida law, your Michigan Patient Advocate Designation may be used by your daughter as long as the document was properly created under Michigan law. Therein lies the potential problem–the Florida hospital may have no idea whether your Michigan Patient Advocate Designation is valid. Under Florida law, the hospital has the right to evaluate the validity of your Michigan Patient Advocate Designation. Clearly, this could take time and ultimately delay your daughter’s ability to make timely decisions related to your care.The good news is that you are permitted to have POA documents under both Michigan and Florida law. You can have Michigan POA documents to address matters in Michigan and Florida POA documents to protect your interests in Florida. In the example above, if your daughter presented the hospital with a properly executed Florida Health Care Advance Directive, the likelihood for confusion and delay would be significantly diminished. Therefore, you should consider adding Florida POA documents to your estate plan to provide you with an extra layer of protection while in Florida.Ultimately, you should consider discussing your activities in Michigan and Florida with an attorney that is licensed in both jurisdictions so that you to develop a comprehensive estate plan to protect your multi-state interests.

If you have questions or would like more information, contact attorney Marlaine C. Teahan at or 517.377.0869. Marlaine chairs the Trusts and Estates practice at Fraser Trebilcock and handles a wide variety of matters including: drafting wills, trusts and durable powers of attorney; trust and estate administration; guardianship and conservatorship matters; and probate litigation. 

As Published in the May 23, 2013 issue of Ingham County Legal News.

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