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Be certain to include estate planning on your moving checklist

When a person makes the monumental decision to move to another state, they undoubtedly have a multitude of issues on their mind from finding a new place to live to looking at area schools if they have children. The stress doesn't end once the move is completed, however, as they have to devote significant time to setting up their new living arrangements and, of course, acclimating to their new surroundings.

One important matter that often gets overlooked following a move to a new state, but which is incredibly important, is a trip to a local law office to make the necessary updates to an existing estate plan.

While people might understandably question the necessity of such a move, especially if they have already gone to great lengths to create a comprehensive estate plan, the simple truth is that a relocation can present certain legal issues that need to be rectified or even opportunities that should be realized. 

In general, estate planning documents will make express references to specific state statutes. As you might imagine, this can present certain problems if a person passes away in their new state of residence with a will or trust that references the laws of their former home state.

The good news, however, is that a legal professional can help people execute a codicil to their will or amend their trust so that they reference the laws of their new state of residence.

Another important estate planning issue that may need to be addressed concerns whether a person has moved to one of the nation's ten community property states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho, Texas, Washington, Louisiana, and Wisconsin), as there are potential tax benefits that can and should be maximized. Here, a legal professional can help ensure that all documents are structured as they should be.

Finally, someone who recently moved may want to verify with an estate planning professional that their existing health care documents, including their living will and/or durable power of attorney, are considered valid in the new state.

To recap, a living will is a legally-binding document outlining a person's precise wishes concerning end-of-life care, while a durable power of attorney grants a designated person the power to make financial and legal decisions in the event of the person's incapacity.

If you have recently moved to Minnesota and have questions about your existing estate plan, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can review your documents, discuss your options and help you execute any necessary adjustments.

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

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