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Snowbirds: What Would Happen if You Pass Away in U.S.?
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If you’re a snowbird with property in Florida or another warm-weather state, you probably enjoy your time in the sun. But the future is unpredictable: What would happen if you were to pass away while at your U.S. residence?
Essentially, your survivors would face two key issues: the removal of your body and the legal and tax questions related to your property.
Regarding the disposition of your body, your loved ones’ task could be made easier if you prepay a funeral plan. Some prepaid plans empower the funeral director to move the deceased over relatively short distances, but, for an additional fee, you may be able to cover international transportation. You might also consider travel insurance, which can cover body preparation, casket and transportation of the body or ashes from the place of death to Canada, and then to a funeral home.
How about your U.S. property? What happens to it if you pass away? If you die without the appropriate legal documents, such as a Will or a Trust, your property must go through the time-consuming, expensive and highly public process of probate, whereby a court will determine ownership. If you at least have a Will in Canada, your family could hire U.S. attorneys to attempt to have it accepted by a U.S. court, but there are no guarantees. Your survivors might be better off if you establish an Expatriate Last Will and Testament or a Cross Border Trust. Consult with your lawyer to determine which option is best for you.
If you passed away during your time as a snowbird, your survivors could face some tough choices. But you can make things easier for them by preplanning your funeral and by placing your U.S. property in your estate plans.