There is a lot to think about when you relocate to a new state – things to pack, people to inform, and paperwork to fill out. The list can be long and sometimes in the hustle and bustle, things can get overlooked… important things, like your estate planning documents. If you have a will and or trust, advance medical directive, or power of attorney prepared in your previous state, make sure you have those documents reviewed by an estate planning attorney in your new state.
Generally speaking, legally executed wills and trusts prepared in one U.S. state are valid in another. However, laws governing wills and trusts can vary from state to state. These changes can include signature and execution requirements, as well as other many others. There may be provisions in your new state’s laws that are more favorable than those in your current documents. These documents might have also been designed to address state-specific inheritance or estate taxes which may no longer apply after you move out-of-state.
With respect to advance directives like durable powers of attorney for finances and advance health care directives for medical care, those documents were also likely created under the laws of your previous state. Sometimes, there can be significant differences in the required form or content of valid advance directives. Many states’ laws governing such directives are substantially identical. If that is the case between your former state and your new state, there may not be a need to update these documents. However, there can still be nuances in the format or information required for a valid directive.
Moving also often means purchasing real estate in your new state, changing employers, and moving assets from one financial services provider to another. An estate planning attorney in your new state can help advise you on how to title assets and designate beneficiaries in a coordinated manner so your estate planning strategies will work most effectively.
Your estate planning documents will generally not kick in until you become incapacitated or die. Of course, none of us knows when either of those things might happen, so taking a “wait-and-see” approach to updating your legal documents is not recommended. If you recently moved or are planning an upcoming out-of-state move, make sure you add “review estate planning documents with my attorney” to your list of to-dos.