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FAQ – Will My Documents Be Effective if I Move to Another State?

Posted on November 30, 2020 by Chris Kirker

Moving to a new state means that a lot of changes are on the way – a new address, an updated driver’s license, and a fresh license plate are just a few. Many people considering an out-of-state move also wonder if they will need new estate-planning documents – wills, powers of attorney, etc…. Because each state has their own laws governing estate-planning, it is always best to check with a local attorney in the new state. While some states will accept out-of-state documents, they may require special terminology or have technicalities that are different than the old state. This can lead to complications in administering out-of-state documents, even if those documents are accepted. Below are a few common difficulties with trying to transfer estate-planning documents to a new state.

Most states will accept wills from other states. However, they may have different probate rules that affect how courts administer wills. If an out-of-state will does not take those new rules into account, it can delay the probate process and take even longer to become effective. States also have their own default rules for marital property – some assume that all property is community property, like Texas, while others assume that it is all separate. If a will from one kind of state is brought into the other kind of state, it might not contain the right provisions to deviate from the default rule and have the property go to who a couple wants it to go to. 

Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney are accepted on a state-by-state basis – anyone contemplating an out-of-state move will need to check with a local attorney in their new state to see what that state’s rules are. Even in states that accept out-of-state documents, in-state documents will likely be easier to use in the future because they will look and sound familiar to the people that process them. Therefore, it is a good idea to update your out-of-state powers of attorney and medical directives, even if it only changes their wording.

Living trusts and life insurance policies are generally transferable between states. However, it is important to update any forms that require the trustor’s physical address to reflect the move. Again, a local attorney can help ensure this has been done properly and all necessary updates have been made.
If you are considering an out-of-state move or have moved to Texas and would like to learn more about your estate-planning options, please contact Kirker|Davis today.

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