While legally you may not need all-new estate planning
documents if you move to a different state, you should have your documents
reviewed by a local attorney in your new home.
The Constitution of the United States requires that states
give “full faith and credit” to the laws of other states. This means that your
will, trust, durable power of attorney, and health care proxy executed in one
state should be honored in every other state. While that's the law, the
practical realties are different and depend on the document.
Your will should still be valid in the new state, but there
may be differences in the new state's laws that make certain provisions of the
will invalid. The same is true of revocable trusts.
This is less true of durable powers of attorney and health
care directives. While they should be honored from state to state, sometimes
banks, medical professionals, and financial and health care institutions don't
accept documents and forms with which they are not familiar. In addition, the
execution requirements may be different depending on the state. Some states
require witnesses on durable powers of attorney and others don't. A state
requiring witnesses may not allow a power of attorney without them to be used
to convey real estate even though the document is perfectly valid in the state
in which it was executed. In the case of health care proxies, other states may
use different terms for the document, such as “durable power of attorney for
health care” or “advance directive.” (And the people reviewing your power of
attorney or health care proxy may not be well versed in constitutional law.)
Moving is a good excuse to consult an attorney to make sure
your estate plan in general is up to date. Other changes in circumstances such
as a change in income or marital status can also affect your estate plan. In
addition, there may be practical changes you will want to make. For example,
you may want to change your trustee or agent under a power of attorney based on
which family members are closer in proximity.
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