If you’re planning on making a move out of your current state, you already have a lot of your mind. Not only do you need to get used to new surroundings and new people, but you also need to familiarize yourself with a potentially completely different set of laws.
Although you don’t need to worry about updating your estate plan as soon as you set foot into your new state, you shouldn’t put this task off for too long. Every state has its own laws when it comes to estate planning, and arrangements you made in one state may not apply the same (or at all) in another.
It’s for this reason that you should find time to carve out of your busy life to visit with an estate planning attorney. This professional can take a look at your current estate plan and advise you on which changes, if any, should be made now that you’re a resident of a different state.
Before you go through that process, however, invest a little time in digesting these considerations for various documents in your estate plan.
Last Will & Testament
Fortunately, most states accept wills that were executed in another state and according to that state’s laws. In other words, as long as you followed the rules to make your will legal in one state, other states are generally inclined to accept it. That said, there are some provisions of a will that may not be valid in your new state.
When you wrote your will in one state, you probably chose an executor who lived in the same state. Now that you’re in a new state, you have to consider this person’s willingness to administer your estate across state lines. In some cases, out-of-state executors are required to post bond or meet other special requirements before they can fulfill their role. Other states require out-of-state executors to appoint an agent in the probating state who can accept legal documents on the estate’s behalf.
Common-law states and community property states treat marital property differently. The former may treat the property you own in your name as yours alone, while the latter might treat all of your property as jointly owned with your spouse. To ensure your heirs receive the inheritance you intend to leave, you must review your will and see how your state treats your marital property once you’ve passed on.
State laws can also vary wildly on the inheritance rights of interested witnesses. An interested witness is someone who witnesses a will and also receives a gift in that will. Some states permit interested witnesses to receive this gift, while others do not or only allow the gift when the witness is a family member.
Revocable Living Trust
Under most circumstances, a revocable living trust that’s valid in one state remains valid in any other state. Still, you must ensure that new real estate, vehicles, or property acquired in your new state is properly transferred to your trust. Otherwise, these assets will need to be probated before they can be distributed to your heirs.
Powers of Attorney
As with the previously mentioned documents, powers of attorney established in one state can be valid in another state. This is true for durable, medical, financial, and any other powers of attorney. Regardless, you shouldn’t take this for granted – have a lawyer review your documents to ensure your documents will work as you intended.
Also, it’s worth considering whether or not healthcare facilities, banks, and other financial institutions will accept a power of attorney drafted in another state. As a matter of course, they may require documents drafted in the new state. Finally, consider the potential consequences of having an agent with power of attorney who doesn’t live in the same state as you. If this is the case for you, you might want to reconsider your agents.
Advance Directives/Living Will
Upon moving to your new state, you will definitely want your advance directives – such as the living will and medical power of attorney – to be professionally reviewed by a lawyer in that state.
Some states recognize these documents when they’re prepared in a different state, but this is not guaranteed. In fact, some states don’t even have laws concerning advance directives, so healthcare professionals might hesitate to honor provisions in documents from another state.
Adding to the complexity is the fact that the way one state handles advance directives can vary wildly from how another state handles them. This can be true for the types of provisions that can be created, the forms that are used, and the verbiage or language that puts it all together.
Any accounts you own with beneficiary designations, such as a life insurance policy, 401(k), or payable-on-death accounts, should remain valid no matter where they were established or which state you currently live in. Still, take a look at these documents and at least be sure to update your personal information, like your address.
Is Your Estate Plan Current?
If you’ve recently moved to Texas from another state, you can rely on Aria Law PLLC to offer the legal advice and support you need to make sure your estate plan is still working for you and your loved ones.
No matter how much time and thought you put into your estate plan, things can change once you move across state lines. While getting your estate plan updated isn’t necessarily an urgent matter, you shouldn’t wait to address it for too long.
If you want assistance from experienced and competent lawyers who can make sure your estate plan is up to date, contact Aria Law PLLC online today.