Do You Need to Update Your Will If You Move Interstate?

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If you're like most people, you've probably been told that you need to do a will. But ideally, life doesn't stop when you get around to it. Particularly if you're still young, life goes on and changes in myriad ways. You might marry, have children or divorce—all big events that require amending your last will and testament. But what if you just move from one state to another?

Legally speaking, an estate plan properly drafted and signed under one state's laws will most likely be valid in any other state. But in reality, estate plans don't always cross state lines very well. You might want to consider amending your will and other estate-planning documents as well for a few reasons.

State Laws Are Different

Each state has its own somewhat unique laws when it comes to creating and implementing documents like wills, trusts, advance medical directives and powers of attorney. This means that after you move, your estate-planning documents may function in your new state, but your estate could have some extra hurdles to overcome.

In all likelihood, the witnesses to your old will did not relocate with you—they're still in your old state and may have to travel to your new state in the event of your death to confirm that they indeed watched you sign your will. At the very least, the personal representative or executor of your estate will have to secure signed and sworn affidavits from them, attesting to this.

Then there's your personal representative—he may still reside in your old state as well. Some states have laws requiring that personal representatives reside in the state where your will is being probated. If your new state is one of them, the court will appoint another personal representative to handle your estate, perhaps not a person you would have chosen.

Wills, Trusts, and Other Estate Planning Documents Have Expiration Dates

Your estate plan is done after you've signed all your estate-planning documents, right? Wrong. Both state and federal laws govern wills, trusts, and other estate-planning documents and they can change year after year. This can make your estate plan obsolete over time. Not only might the laws of your new state render your old estate plan invalid, but your documents might even be useless under the laws of your former state of residence and under federal law when laws and rule change. You might not even be aware of certain changes if you're not living in your old state any longer.

What Should You Do?

If you've moved to a new state, or if your estate plan is more than a few years old, have it reviewed by a qualified estate planning attorney in your current location. It's also a good idea to get your estate plan reviewed in states where you own real estate or a business because chances are your documents will need to work there, too.

So yes, if you've moved to a new state, you probably do need to redo your will.

NOTE: State and local laws change frequently, and the above information may not reflect the most recent changes. Please consult with an attorney for current legal advice. The information contained in this article is not legal advice, and is not a substitute for legal advice.