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Do I Need to Update My Estate Plan if I Move to Another State?

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Sep 05, 2019 | 0 Comments

I get calls often from people moving to another state and wanting to know if they are going to need to have their estate plan updated.  This is a very good question, and the answer is . . . it depends.  That is what attorneys always say, right?

What I can say for certain is you should have your estate plan REVIEWED by an attorney licensed in the state to which you have moved.  Your estate plan might need to be updated, or not.  It depends on a whole bunch of factors.

Here are some examples:

  • You move from a state with no estate tax or inheritance tax to a state that does have one or the other of those taxes.  You probably WILL need to have your estate plan updated to add the tax planning that you didn't need before.
  • You move from a state with an estate tax or inheritance tax to a state that does NOT impose either.  Yeah!  But you probably WILL want to have your estate plan updated to subtract the tax planning that you no longer need and that made your estate plan so complicated.  You can simplify!
  • You move from any state to Florida.  I am not licensed in Florida, but I am vaguely aware that their rules are different, such as requiring that trusts be witnessed, which is not a requirement in any other state that I am aware of.  Do yourself a favor and update your estate plan to ensure things go smoothly for your heirs and beneficiaries.
  • Your power of attorney is a state statutory form.  Yes, some states have laws that say that such documents executed in accordance with the laws of the other state will be recognized in their state, but I just think that it is asking for trouble, because folks in your new hometown are not going to be familiar with them and they might "think" they are not valid and your fiduciaries will, right or wrong, encounter roadblocks trying to use them.  Attorney-prepared documents are usually better than statutory forms anyway, so now might be a good time to go ahead and get them updated.
  • Most states have provisions accepting a living will or advance care directive that was created in another state. But some states only accept advance care directives from states that have similar requirements, and other states do not say anything about out-of-state directives. States can also differ on what the terms in an advance directive mean. For example, some states require two witnesses, other states require one witness, some require either two witnesses or a notary, and some states do not require a witness at all.  Also, some states may require specific authorization for certain life-sustaining procedures such as feeding tubes while other states may allow blanket authorization for all procedures.
  • It has been three years or more since you had your estate plan reviewed.  It is time for a review anyway, so now would be a good time.  (OK, I know this has nothing to do with moving.   It's just a reminder that estate planning is an ongoing process so you are going to need to get it reviewed anyway.  Might as well find yourself an estate planning attorney that you like in your new hometown.  And It's a great excuse to meet someone in the area.  You might even get some doctor and restaurant recommendations out of it, too!)

And don't be shy about letting your existing estate planning attorney know you are moving.  Very often they can recommend an estate planning attorney for you to see in your new hometown.  Some attorneys, like myself, are members of multiple professional networks, making it super easy to find someone for you to call when you get settled in your new digs.

Life is a great adventure.  Look at this as part of the adventure. 

About the Author

Nina Whitehurst

Attorney at Law Nina has been practicing law for over 30 years in the areas of estate planning, real estate and business law She is currently licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. Her Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating is the highest achievable: 5 stars in peer...

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