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Moving Across State Lines? Don’t Forget to Update Your Estate Plan

Alli Thomas

Relocation after retirement is becoming more common. And, contrary to popular belief, not all retirees are moving to Florida. In 2018, over 900,000 Americans over age 60 moved across state lines–and that figure is 16% higher than just five years before.

Why would retirees want to make such a big move? Some of the often-cited reasons include moving to be closer to family, better weather, and lower taxes or cost of living in a different state.

Whatever the case may be, moving is a huge undertaking and can often feel overwhelming, especially when you’ve accumulated a lifetime of belongings and are leaving a home in which you may have lived for many decades. In the hustle and bustle of such a move, it isn’t surprising that one critical item is easy to overlook: your estate plan.

Here are some tips about what you should review as you plan your interstate move:

1. Your will. Assuming it was correctly executed in your current state, it’s generally safe to assume that your will is fine as is. However, your new state may have different rules from your current state. Some examples include the age of your named executor or whether they have felony convictions against them. The location of your executor is also worth considering. If you’re moving across the country from where your executor lives, they may have to travel a great deal to handle your estate after you die. If you’re moving somewhere where you have no close family or friends, you may want to consider appointing a corporate executor in your new home state.

2. Marital property. This aspect ties back to your will. Assuming that you’re married, you’ll want to figure out how your old and new states view property. If, for example, you moved to a community property state from a common law state, you may need to create a new will altogether because your existing one may not accomplish your intentions for the distribution of your property.

3. Estate and inheritance taxes. There are currently a dozen and a half U.S. states (plus Washington DC) that levy estate or inheritance taxes on residents and non-residents who own property in the state. But the exclusion amount and tax rate can vary significantly, so it may be worth understanding the differences.

4. Advance directives/living wills. There’s no guarantee that your advance healthcare directive will be honored in a different state. Review it and ensure that it meets the criteria of your new home. If not, you’ll need to update it, or perhaps just create a new document that does meet your new state’s laws.

While it’s easy to get wrapped up in all the other details of a big move, it’s important to make sure that you keep your estate plan current. If you’d like to discuss possible changes to your plan (or get a second opinion), click here to make a free, no-obligation appointment with one of our advisors.

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