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Moving between states could impact the validity of a will

While a living will or trust should be honored in any state in the nation, there is no guarantee that this is the case. Individuals who have just moved to New York from another state should know that, in many cases, a document such as a will may reference one's state law as the law governing the will or even reference specific statutes that are only applicable in a particular state. This can present problems if a person moves from one state to another without updating his or her estate plan.

However, it may be possible to add language to a will or trust to use the law in the state to which a person moves instead of the state in which the document was drawn up. This can be helpful when a person needs medical care but is incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions on his or her own. With a valid living will, the document will spell out what treatment a person will or will not receive or when to stop giving treatment and allow for the end of a person's life.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the issue of how to deal with community property when a person dies. Currently, there are 10 states in which community property laws are honored where many people may relocate to later in life. Regardless of whether a married couple moves to Nevada, Washington or any other state, it is important to understand whether community property laws will apply to their estate.

There are many details that need to be considered when an individual or married couple moves to a new state. Just as it is common to update a mailing address or phone number, it may be worthwhile to update estate planning documents too after a move. An estate planning attorney could provide assistance updating documents to comply with the "new" state's laws.

Source: The Spectrum, "Moving may affect estate planning", Scott Halvorsen, July 28, 2014

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