Is my estate plan valid if I move to another state?
When people retire, or decide to move to be closer to family often times it involves a move to a different state. So when you move to a different state, are your estate plan documents still valid in your new state of residence?
The answer is maybe.
Under of the U.S. Constitution, every state shall give full faith and credit to the laws of every other state. So as long as they are not contrary to California law, documents that were completed and valid in another state generally are valid in California and vice versa.
This is especially true with contracts. If you signed a contract in California that is governed by California law, the contract generally is effective in any state and still could be governed by California law.
Living Trusts generally are completely portable throughout the United States. You can choose which state law governs your trust. In all of most of my trusts I insert a clause that says that this trust is governed by the laws of the state of California.
Contract law generally does got govern other estate planning documents such as wills or financial or health care powers of attorney. These documents more often will be governed by the laws of your state of residence or the laws of the state in which you are located when you are trying to enforce them.
Most states have specific statutes governing wills and durable powers of attorney for health care. Property Management powers of attorney are often governed by a state’s laws of agency, but if they have typical estate planning features, such as remaining effect upon your incapacity, they may be governed by probate law as well.
Most states have laws similar to California for these documents, but there are differences between states.
If you moved from another state and have estate-planning documents that were prepared in your old state, there may be portions of your documents that are unenforceable in your new state. Whenever you move to a new state, at a minimum you should have your old estate planning documents reviewed to make sure they comply with the laws of your new state. Better yet and often times more economical, you could have new estate planning documents prepared by an attorney in your new state.