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Do you need a new estate plan if you move to another state?

You've spent a good chunk of time and probably no small amount of money executing a detailed estate plan. Then you move to another state. Will you have to do the whole thing over again?

Likely, you won't. As long as it was a valid will under the laws of the state in which it was executed, it will probably be valid in your new home state -- with some caveats.

Estate planning and property laws vary among states. Therefore, it's essential to consult with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible once you've settled in to confirm that the will remains valid and to determine whether any changes need to be made to ensure that it conforms with the laws of your state.

For example, while few people have handwritten wills these days, it's important to know that these aren't valid in all states. They are recognized here in California. However, they must meet certain requirements. A California estate planning attorney can provide guidance regarding any changes that may be required if you're moving here.

Whether you're moving in or out of California and if you're married, remember that California is a community property state, but many states aren't. Marital assets are considered differently in community property states than in those that aren't. This isn't just something to concern yourself with if you get a divorce. It can also be relevant to your estate planning documents.

Another area of estate planning law where states vary is who can be the executor. Some states have restrictions on non-relative executors living in other states. If you're moving far away from family members or others whom you've chosen to be your executor, power of attorney or health care proxy, ensure that it's still feasible for them to handle those responsibilities. If you've moved to Los Angeles from Maine and your family is back there, ensure that they're able and willing to handle the necessary duties if needed.

The best thing to do is find an experienced estate planning attorney in your new state, even if you're maintaining your current residence as well. Your estate planning attorney may be able to recommend someone. Your new attorney can thoroughly review your documents to ensure that they comply with the law and are still the best choices under your new home state's laws for documenting your wishes.

Source: New Jersey 101.5, "Is that will still valid if you move?," Karin Price Mueller, NJMoneyHelp.com, June 17, 2016

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