Although you probably won’t need to have an entirely new Will and Trust prepared for you, upon relocating to another state, you should have your existing plan reviewed by an Wills and Trusts planning lawyer who is familiar with your new home state’s laws. This is true because each state has its own laws governing Wills and Trusts planning, and those laws can differ significantly from one location to another.
Given this, you’ll want to make sure your planning documents all comply with the new state’s laws, and the terms of those documents still work as you intended. Here, we’ll discuss how differing state laws can affect common planning documents and the steps you might want to take to ensure your documents are properly updated upon your relocation.
Last Will and Testament
While most states will accept a will that was executed properly under another state’s laws, there could be differences in the new state’s laws that make certain provisions in your will invalid. Here are a few of the things you should pay attention to in your will when moving:
Your executor: First, you should consider whether or not the executor or administrator you’ve chosen will be able to serve in that role in your new location. Every state will allow an out-of-state executor to serve, but some states have special requirements that those executors must meet prior to serving. Some states even require non-resident executors to appoint an agent who lives within the state to accept legal documents on behalf of the estate.
Marital property: If you are married, you should give special consideration to how your new state treats marital property. While a common-law state might treat the property you own in your name alone as yours, a community-property states treat all of your property as owned jointly with your spouse. If your new state treats marital property differently than your prior residence, you might need to draft a new will to ensure your wishes are honored.
Interested witnesses: Another important role under your will you should consider when moving to a new state is an interested witness. An interested witness is a person who was a witness to your will who also receives a gift from your will. While, some states allow interested witnesses to receive the gift, other states do not allow such gifts. Further, some other states allow such gifts provided the witness is a family member.
Revocable Living Trust
A valid revocable living trust from one state should continue to be valid in the state to which you relocate. However, you need to make certain that you transfer any new assets or property you acquire to your trust so that those assets can avoid the need to go through the probate process before being distributed to your heirs upon your death.
Power of Attorney
A valid power of attorney document, such as a durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, or financial power of attorney, created in one state could still be valid in your new state. However, you shouldn’t just assume that it will be accepted. Therefore, you should check with a lawyer like us to make certain your document will work 100% as intended.
Additionally, in some cases, banks, financial institutions, and healthcare facilities in your new state may not accept a power of attorney document if it’s unfamiliar to them. This is another reason to have these documents reviewed by a professional. Finally, it may be a good idea to have your power of attorney agent live in the same state you do, so keep that in mind as well.
Advance Directive/ Living Will
When it comes to advance directives, such as a living will and medical power of attorney, you’ll find that most states will accept documents that were created in other states. However, this isn’t guaranteed. Some states, for example, don’t even have any laws governing these matters, so healthcare professionals may be hesitant to accept documents drafted in other states.
Furthermore, the provisions, forms, and language used in advance directives can vary between states. For example, some states combine a medical power of attorney with a living will, which allows you to name the person in charge of making your medical decisions in the event of your incapacity and spell out your specific wishes for care all in one document. Yet, in other states the documents must be separate. For these reasons, you should enlist the help of a lawyer to make sure your advance directives will be honored at your new residence.
While you are reviewing your directives for your new state, you should also review them to ensure they are clear on your wishes. Many directives aren’t specific enough in this area, and this is exactly what led to the lengthy court battle over Terry Schiavo’s life. In addition, you should check to see if you want to add or change any provisions to account for COVID-19.
If you have accounts with beneficiary designations, such as 401(k)s or life insurance policies, these should be valid no matter which state you live in. That said, you should still review these documents when you move to update your address and other personal information.
Keep Your Plan Current
As with other major life events, such as births and divorce, moving to a new state is the ideal time to have your Will and Trust reviewed by a professional. With us, as your Personal Family Lawyer®, we’ll not only support you in creating the Wills and Trusts planning documents that are best suited for your situation and asset profile, but we also have system in place to ensure your documents stay totally updated throughout your lifetime.
Additionally, for parents of minor children, we can also help create the legal documents for naming both short and long-term guardians that would care for your kids in the event of your death or incapacity. This is so important, we’ve developed a comprehensive system called the Kids Protection Plan® that guides you through the process of creating the legal documents naming these guardians.
You can get the process of naming guardians started right now for free by visiting our website: https://legaljourneys.kidsprotectionplan.com/.
Schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session™ with us to get your Will and Trust started or reviewed today.
This article is a service of Levi L. Alexander, Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents. We help to ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. This is why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™. During this session, you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session for free.