“The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.”
- Abe Lemons
While retirement may ultimately lead to bliss (or so we think), the process, transition and adjustment can be a tough road. The Holmes Rahe Stress Scale* rates 43 stressful life events by assigning them “life change units”. Retirement is tied for ninth (along with marital reconciliation) on the stress scale, having earned 45 units out of 100.
Increased stress is bound to occur if the retiree has not established a financially comfortable retirement. Many personal economic considerations must be examined in the course of making retirement or “rewirement” plans. Even those who believe they will “die with their boots on” should make contingency plans just in case circumstances prevent the attorney from earning a livelihood.
WHERE TO LIVE
Those who retire or rewire may neither need nor want to continue living in their present location. The desire to move can be heightened when children scatter and friends and family flee to faraway places. Before making the life altering decision to abandon “home”, it is wise to ensure that all relevant factors have been considered. Both personal and financial aspects are relevant; however, ensuring that the new environment satisfies lifestyle issues is first and foremost.
Once attractive options are identified, the financial and legal implications of making a move must be analyzed. Many are motivated to move to another part of the country to save on housing costs. Lower prices can also be found close by.
In addition to its potential impact on cost of living, changing domicile can affect income, estate and gift tax liability, the availability of government benefits as well as a myriad of other legal rights. A thorough study of germane information would be a wise investment of time. The website maintained by Retirement Living Information Center (“Center”) is an excellent resource geared toward seniors. Notably, a section is devoted to a state by state comparison of Sales, Personal Income, Inheritance and Estate Tax rules and rate structures.* For example, homeowners shouldering crushing property tax burdens in their locale are advised to explore the Tax Foundation’s website** which publishes specific figures with respect to property tax paid by households on owner-occupied housing in all 793 U.S. counties with populations exceeding 65,000. Military retirees may be drawn to states imposing no income tax on their retirement pay - also listed on the Center’s website.
Those who own property in more than one state may wish to re-establish domicile in what has been treated, up until now, as the second (or even third) home. Each state’s criteria with respect to establishing domicile can vary and should be thoroughly investigated and carefully followed. The abandoned state will not be so quick to relinquish coveted income and estate tax revenues.