A common question asked by prospective clients is whether they need to update their estate plan if they relocate to a different state. A client may ask, “what provisions in a will are interchangeable among all 50 states?” Or they may ask, “Is guardianship the same no matter where you live?”
Here is the answer – the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution reads “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.” This means the provisions within a will executed in one state will generally be honored if you relocate to another state. As a result, you do not need to draft a new will every time you move to a different. This is also true of revocable trusts. They are generally honored in each state.
However, there are certain estate planning documents that should be updated when you move to a new state. For example, if you have a durable power of attorney and health care directive, you should invest some time in reviewing and updating these legal documents when you move. While these documents should be honored in most states, there are instances where banks, medical professionals, and financial and health care institutions refuse to accept documents and forms with which they are not familiar or have wording applicable to a different state. In addition, for some purposes the execution requirements may be different.
Another area where relocating will likely require review of your estate plan involves the issue of guardianship. If, for example, you have guardianship over another person in state A and you both move to state B, you will have to terminate the first guardianship and get a new one in the new state. This is because the courts in state A will no longer have jurisdiction over the person now in state B.