Were you aware that people in America have never been more mobile? Now, the reasons may vary, but a move across state lines could be motivated by lower taxes, better job prospects, warmer weather or a desire to be closer to one’s grandchildren. Whatever the reason, moving to a different state often requires updating estate planning documents, as each state has its own laws governing your estate plan. This means that your estate planning tools, such as a will and powers of attorney, may not work the way you want them to after you move.
Even though many rules are similar and a valid will prepared in your previous state of residence will most likely be valid in your new state of residence, you should be careful. Different states have different rules regarding the execution of documents as well. States can differ on key matters, such as witnesses to will signings, disinheriting children, and marriage and divorce. You do not want to leave your legacy to chance as a result of your relocation and you should seek the advice of an estate planning attorney in your new state.
Be mindful that by updating your estate plan to comply with the execution requirements of your new state, you can ensure the validity and enforceability of your documents. For example, in states like Florida, the personal representative of your last will and testament is required to be related by blood or marriage, or to be a Florida resident. A personal representative is someone named in a will who is responsible for collecting the property of the deceased, paying their debts and taxes, and distributing what is left to those named accordingly in the will during the Florida probate process. That means, if you recently moved to the Sunshine State and have someone from your previous state listed as your personal representative who is not a blood relative, a Florida probate court will not allow them to serve.
Interestingly though, when it comes to your estate planning, your trust agreement is the one document that usually can move across state lines. Trust planning, under the guidance of your experienced estate planning attorney, can be essential to avoid the probate process at the time of your passing. If you do not have a trust agreement as a part of your estate plan yet, then you may want to consider the advantages of one with your attorney upon revisiting your existing estate plan.
Starting from scratch may not be necessary if you already have a comprehensive estate plan. This will depend on your circumstances and it is a conversation you should have with your estate planning attorney. In addition to your relocation, if it has been more than three years since the last time your estate plan was revised, or if major changes in your family such as the birth of a child, then it may be a good idea to revamp your estate documents anyway. Your estate planning attorney can look at your plan to let you know what may need to change and may also be able to introduce you to an attorney in your new state.
Our firm is here to support you now and available to answer your questions. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. No matter where you are in life’s journey, we can help. The most important thing is to protect yourself and those you love. Whether you need to update your estate plan, are preparing for future long-term care needs, or have a loved one entering or already in a nursing home, we are ready to assist you. We have three convenient locations and are ready to serve the communities around Highlands and Polk County, Florida. Take your first step by contacting us today.