Your Estate Plan After You Move to a New State

If you move to a new state, do you have to start your whole estate planning over again? The reality is that yes, you need all new documents, at least for certain parts of your estate plan. But your previous efforts were not wasted at all. Fortunately, you have already done the hardest work, and that is making these crucial decisions. You already know what estate planning documents you want, and you know what you want them to say. Now you will need to make these documents comply with your new state's laws. (And you would have to go through this anyway if family circumstances changed or if years have gone by since you wrote these documents up.) Here is a brief sketch of the review you will need to make after a major relocation.

When You Would Need Rewrite a Will

If you will was valid in your former state, chances are, it is still valid. Even though most state laws say that a court will recognize a valid out-of-state will, you should still check your state's laws just in case. Usually speaking, however, the only reason you would need to change a will because of a move would be if you are now under different rules when it comes to marital property and when it comes to choosing an executor.

Changed Rules About Marital Property
First off, if you have moved from a common law state to a community property state (or the other way around), then you and your spouse made need to draft up new will. For example, in a community property state, almost everything that a married couple accumulates during the course of their marriage is considered marital property. If you just moved to a community property state from a state where title deeds determine whether an asset is separate or marital property, then all that property could still be counted as community property. If you and your spouse want a court to view your property differently than your new state laws dictate, then you may both need to write new wills.

Different Rules About Choosing an Executor
Some states have very specific rules concerning who you can name as your executor. As an example, in Florida, you can only choose a blood relation or someone related to you by marriage, otherwise, your executor has to be a resident of Florida. So if you name a trusted friend from California as your executor, a probate court in Florida will not be okay with this. In other states, an executor can be out-of-state, but that they have to meet further qualifications. But state laws are not the only reason it is usually best to choose an executor who lives somewhat nearby. For these reasons, you may need to toss a perfectly valid will in order to rewrite the will with a different choice of executor.

Advance Medical Directives (Living Wills) and Powers of Attorney

Generally speaking, it is a good idea to update these. In some states, the laws specifically say that out-of-state living wills and healthcare powers of attorney will be followed. Some state laws say nothing on the matter; it is up to a healthcare provider to decide whether or not they will abide by the documents. Whatever the state though, rewriting these documents in your new state will usually make things much easier for your medical provider to follow.

This is because these forms differ drastically from state to state, and even important words are different in each state's documents. In some states, medical directives and healthcare power of attorney are included in the same document. Other states split the two up into different documents. Your wishes will be easier to honor if they are in an updated format.

You almost NEVER want to make two sets of health care documents, however. Even if you split your time between two different states, you almost never can make identical copies of your wishes because each state's forms are often so different. Signing a second health care document only revokes the one you have in the other state.

Some Documents only Need a Regular Review

As for revocable living trusts, state laws should not affect these. Your trust should be universally valid. But it does not hurt to review it to make sure that it is entirely updated. As for any other documents with where you have beneficiary designations, you do not need to update these within your state, but you do need to make sure that the institution with which you have this arrangement has your current addresses and information. This would apply to documents where you have named a beneficiary for insurance, a bank account, retirement plan, etc.

If you have any questions about how to have your estate plan accepted in a new state, be sure to contact an experienced probate attorney on our site today!