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Have Trust Will Travel

September 28, 2022

Diane S. Kotkin

I was speaking at a seminar recently when the topic of retiring to another state was brought up.  The participant wanted to retire to a sunnier and warmer climate but questioned whether his estate planning documents needed to be updated.  Believe it or not, this is a very common question.  Whether the move is due to retirement, changing jobs, moving closer to family or moving to a jurisdiction with better taxes, we often overlook the legal ramifications of a move. So what should you do?

Clients should update their documents, or at the very least have them reviewed, when they are thinking about making a move.  There are 50 states out there and they all have different laws, especially in terms of how to treat different things that might impact your estate plan.  For example, if you are moving to a state with has higher taxes, you will want to update your documents and explore tax planning.  If you are moving to a jurisdiction where probate is a long complicated process, you may want to create a new estate plan to include a revocable trust.  If you are married, you will also want review your documents to assure that there are no differences in the way marital property is treated. Updating your documents will also show your intent to make that new state your domicile.   

One of the more important documents are Powers of Attorney.  Most powers of attorneys are statutory (created by state laws).  While hospitals and financial institutions in your new state may honor your old POA from your old state, it will delay things as they will have to review them, make sure it is compliant with their laws and scrutinize them on a higher level.  Most doctors, nurses and financial professionals are not going to determine the legality on their own; they will go to legal counsel which will cause further delay.

Finally, moving is a good excuse to consult an estate planning attorney to make sure your estate plan in general is up to date. Other changes in circumstances such as a change in income, children or marital status can also affect your estate plan. In addition, there may be practical changes you will want to make. So, to avoid the hassle, have your documents reviewed and updated by a competent estate planning attorney in your new state.

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