Where are the best places to retire in America? if you guessed Florida and Arizona you’d be off the mark, according to a recent survey by Bankrate.
Average number of sunny days get those states high scores, but sunny days alone don’t mean happy golden years.
“As this report correctly suggests, pre-retirees need to consider a lot more than snow days and tradition,” says Rodger Friedman, founding partner and wealth manager at Steward Partners Global Advisory and author of “Forging Bonds of Steel,” a guide to developing an excellent working relationship with your financial advisor.
“Different states have different tax laws and other regulations that can have a major impact on your retirement funds. You need to be aware of these as you plan for where you want to live and how you want to live.”
Whether or not you’re considering one of the other top four “best states to retire” – Colorado, Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming, in that order – follow these three tips for planning ahead.
• New state – new income tax rules. Get to know them!
Familiarize yourself with the tax laws of the state you’re considering for your new home. Two of the top five on Bankrate’s list – South Dakota and Wyoming — have no state income tax, along with five others: Nevada (No. 18 on the list), Texas (19), Washington (22), Florida (39), and Alaska (48.).
Also, an itemized deduction in one state may not be an itemized deduction in another. If you use the long form (1040) to file federal income taxes, hire a reputable, experienced CPA for guidance.
Look into how your new state taxes retirement income. States differ on taxing interest income from tax-free municipal bonds.
Some states give tax credits for pensions; treat public and private pensions differently; or offer federal, military or blanket exclusions.
• If you’re married, are you moving to a community property state?
There are nine community property states – those that divide all maritally-acquired assets and debt 50:50 in the event of divorce. (Exceptions include an inheritance or gift received by one spouse and maintained separately in that spouse’s name.) Community property states are Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada, Louisiana, and Washington. Consulting with an estate planning attorney regarding how this issue may affect you may be money very well spent.
• Have a lawyer review your estate planning documents.
Your existing estate planning documents should be reviewed by a lawyer in your new state of residence because statutes differ on the types of documents required and the powers bestowed upon each. For example, states are all over the map regarding the validity of a power of attorney document and the powers that may or may not be conveyed.
“During their careers, their ‘acquiring wealth years,’ many people live in places that have lots of jobs – and the higher cost of living that goes along with that,” Friedman says. “In retirement, many of them want to move to a state where they can enjoy the same or an even better lifestyle with less money.
“For that, it’s essential to consider not only the cost of living but the state laws that affect your accumulated wealth and income.”