Do You Need to Update Your Will and Other Estate Planning Documents If You Change Your State of Residence?

The question of needing to update your estate planning documents if you move to a different state is a common one. If your Will was valid in the state where it was created, it should be respected as valid in another state where you later move to and become a resident. However, each state has its own probate and estate administration laws, including some quirks of local state law. So, in many cases, it may feel like you will be trying to put a square peg in a round hole when trying to probate and administer an out-of-state Will. Hence, the general advice is to seek an estate planning attorney in the new state of residence to update your Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care agency type documents so that they will work as well and efficiently as possible in the new state.

You should also consider two other important points:

1. One of the 11 benefits of using a Revocable Living Trust (RLT) based estate plan is that an RLT based estate plan is more mobile than a Will based estate plan if you ever move to another state of residence. When you change your residence, you would still need to update your short “pour-over” Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care agency type documents, but you should be able to leave your RLT (the heavy lifting, primary estate planning document with this structure) as is, since the RLT is self-contained and normally includes all the legal terms that are needed (at least with a well-drafted RLT). You can see our firm’s recently updated newsletter on this topic here.

The Will used with an RLT-based estate plan is normally referred to as a “pour-over” Will since its primary purposes are to (i) name your Executor (also sometimes referred to as a Personal Representative or PR), (ii) name the Guardian of any minor children you may leave behind, and (iii) instruct the Executor to pay off any estate debts and then transfer any remaining estate assets to your RLT. Hence, the pour-over Will acts primarily as a coordinating document.

2. While we referred above to the more common terminology of a change of residence, technically we mean a change in domicile. Domicile is a state law term that generally means the state where you have your primary home and have no current intent to leave. For example, if your employer has you move to another state for a one- or two-year assignment and you intend to return to your home state, then your domicile likely did not change. Likewise, if you need the services of a particular hospital or other medical provider in another state until you get well enough to return home, you likely did not change your domicile. Lastly, even if you have a history of moving from state to state for whatever reason, but you have no present intent to leave your new state, your domicile has likely changed.

For a complimentary estate planning consultation or for assistance with updating your current estate planning documents, contact Morgan & DiSalvo at 678-720-0750.

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