Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How Portable Are Your Estate Planning Documents?


At Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, PC,  a full service estate planning and elder law firm, we serve the people of central Indiana. But, if you move to another state, must you get rid of your estate planning documents and start over from scratch? The answer? “Yes and no”.
First off, all your documents do need to be reviewed to make sure they meet your new home state’s legal requirements. Although estate laws are similar throughout the United States, they may differ in some details.

Power of Attorney documents:
Whenever real property is involved (a house, a condo, a vacation or rental property), where the land is located, controls.  That means you need a specific power of attorney for each property you own, written in compliance with that jurisdiction. In general, although states may have their own requirements, they do generally recognize valid powers of attorney that are created in another state.

Health Care Power of Attorney documents:
Your healthcare power of attorney document names someone to make healthcare decisions for you when you’re too sick to do that yourself, giving that person the power to decide on all aspects of your medical treatment. While every state’s documents must be written to conform with federal law and Supreme Court decisions, healthcare providers in your new state may not be familiar with the form you have. Most state laws contain a “reciprocity provision”, recognizing directives from another state.

Wills and revocable living trusts:
The state to which you relocate will almost always accept your document as valid.  Still, it makes sense to have a local attorney amend the documents to comply with local law.

Beneficiary Designations on Retirement accounts
Retirement accounts and federal benefits are governed by federal law, regardless of where you’re living.

Changes in circumstances make it necessary to tweak your documents:  Other than relocation, specific estate-plan review triggers might include:
  •  a change in marital status
  • an addition to the family
  •  a death in the family
  •  an inheritanceretirement 
  • sale of an important asset

An estate document review will give you peace of mind and alert you to any changes that might need to be addressed, as 360degrees of Financial Literacy points out.

Whether you’re moving to another state or not, estate planning documents need to go for a “checkup” every so often!

- by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates blog team

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