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Do Estate Planning Documents Need to be Redone if I Move?

by Jeffrey Asher, Estate Planning Expert
August 20, 2014

Question: If I have completed the estate planning process in one state, do I need to re-do the documents when I move to another state?

Answer: The short answer is no. Documents, such as a Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, or Living Will, validly signed in one state, are valid in every other state. However, the longer answer depends on whether or not the documents in question were validly executed in the original state. For example, if a Power of Attorney is signed in New York, but later the person’s children want to use the Power of Attorney in Florida, then the Power of Attorney had to have been validly executed in New York to be validly used in Florida. If there is any material error in the drafting of the document or in the execution of the document, then the document was not validly signed in the original state and, therefore, cannot be validly used in the new state.

Additionally, and notwithstanding the above, once you move to the new state, you may want to (but don’t have to) consider using the new state’s forms. Here’s why. If you intend on being a permanent resident, or domiciliary, of the new state, you may want to take advantage of what may be more favorable laws or more simplified documents. For example, New York does not have a statutory form of a Living Will. However, there may be states that do. So, it may be prudent to re-do the document using the new state’s statutory form. Second, the people or institutions who may be seeing and using the documents from your original state may be confused because they are not familiar with the documents or how the documents look. So, it may be easier to re-do the documents using the new state’s forms so that you don’t waste time with the people and/or institutions constantly having to verify the original state’s documents. For example, some states call a Health Care Proxy a “Power of Attorney for Health Care Decision-Making” or other similar names. If you are trying to use the Health Care Proxy and the hospital is confused because they are familiar only with the “Power of Attorney for Health Care Decision-Making”, the hospital may want to have its attorneys review the document to make sure it is valid. Whereas, if the hospital is shown that state’s “Power of Attorney for Health Care Decision-Making”, there may be no need to get its legal department involved since the hospital is familiar with the form of the document.

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Jeffrey Asher is a prominent Trusts & Estates and Elder Law attorney in Westchester County and New York City. Mr. Asher concentrates primarily in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate and Estate Administration, Elder Law, Medicaid Planning, and Special Needs Planning. Mr. Asher provides comprehensive legal services, tailored to meet your specific needs.

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