Moving To A New State? Remember to Update Your Estate Plan

While a new estate plan can be unnecessary, upon relocating to another state, you should have your existing plan reviewed by a local estate planning lawyer who is familiar with the state’s laws.

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 intended. Here are some common planning documents and how your new state’s laws may affect your existing plan.  


Last Will and Testament
The good news is, most states will accept a will that was executed properly under another state's laws. Here are a few of the things you should pay the most attention to in your will when moving:


Your executor: Consider whether 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 Texas requires 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, 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, community-property states treat all of your property as owned jointly with your spouse. If your new state treats marital property differently, you might need to draft a new will to ensure your wishes are honored.


Revocable Living Trust

A valid revocable living trust from one state should continue to be valid in your new state. You need to ensure that you transfer any new assets or property you acquire, such as your new home, to your trust, so that those assets can avoid the need to go through probate.


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 may be valid in your new state.


However, some banks, financial institutions, and healthcare facilities in your new state may not accept a power of attorney document if it’s unfamiliar to them.  As a practical matter, it is a good idea to have your power of attorney agent live in the same state you do.


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, but this isn’t guaranteed.


Furthermore, the provisions, forms, and language used in advance directives can vary widely between states. You should enlist the help of a lawyer to make sure your advance directives will be honored in your new state.


In addition, check to see if you want to add or change any provisions to account for the current realities of COVID-19.


Keep Your Plan Current
As with other major life events, such as births, deaths, and divorce, moving to a new state is the ideal time to have your plan reviewed by a professional.


Additionally, for parents of minor children, you should create the legal documents for naming both short and long-term guardians, who would care for your kids in the event of your death or incapacity.


This article is a service of the Law Office of Lasca A. Arnold, PLLC, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.