Snowbirds and Personal Info: Organizing Documents Across States

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Question:

As a “snowbird,” I spend the warm months in Michigan and the winter months in Arizona. How do I make sure that my financial, health insurance, and medical information are with the right people throughout the year?

Answer:

It’s important that you and your circle of friends/family know where copies of your important personal documents are located – in both states. This includes your durable power of attorney and your healthcare directive.

The challenge for “snowbirds” is to make sure that these documents are valid in both jurisdictions. Some states have different execution requirements, like requiring that documents be notarized, for example. So it’s important to make sure that the attorney drafting the documents knows that the papers need to comply with the rules for both Michigan and Arizona. As far as your medical paperwork, it depends which health insurance she uses. If you’re enrolled in Medicare, the rules won’t vary from state to state since it’s a medical program. However, you can only enroll in Medicaid in your state of residence – so if you’re using Medicaid services, you’ll need to pick one state and stay there, because Medicaid won’t go back and forth with you.

Online banking services and websites can help automate monthly financial chores like bill paying. However, many older Americans aren’t comfortable making online payments. You might also want to look into local bill paying programs for senior citizens. These services will help make sure that you’re bills are paid on time and forwarded to the right address. Check with your local senior center or her healthcare provider to see whether this kind of service is available where she lives.

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