Is your will valid if you move to another state?

Moving to a new state can be a logistical nightmare. Anything from your vehicle registration to your voter registration may be no longer valid in your new state, and it can feel like you’re starting from scratch.

Fortunately, this trend might not apply to your will. When you move to a new state, your will generally remains valid so long as certain conditions are met. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind to ensure that your will is optimized for your new state’s unique laws and regulations.

Reach out to Select Law Partners, PLLC at (855) 541-4867 for personalized legal guidance from a Fairfax estate planning attorney.

Ways that moving to a new state might affect your will

As a legally binding document, your will is protected under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of Article IV of the United States Constitution. This clause requires each state to recognize the legal documents and court judgments of the other states. Your will is no exception, so it should remain valid when you move to a new state.

However, your will must have been drafted and executed in accordance with all laws in the state where you lived when it was executed.

With this in mind, you could simply move to a new state without making any changes to your will, and its terms would still be honored if you passed away — but we don’t recommend that. Each state governs wills differently, and your current document may not be written in accordance with your new state’s provisions.

So while the court may still recognize your will as valid, it might not be applied in the way you’d prefer or intended when you drafted it.

For example, in North Carolina, an out-of-state executor (the person appointed to carry out the terms of the will) must appoint someone who lives in the state to act as the agent who can accept legal documents on the estate’s behalf. If you’d prefer to avoid this potential expense and hassle, you may want to name an executor who resides in your new state.

Another example of a possible complication involves disinheriting (i.e., leaving no share of your estate to) a spouse or child. Many states have laws that protect surviving family members from being completely disinherited, so it’s important to make sure your will takes such laws into account.

For instance, if you explicitly disinherit a family member in your current will, that specific provision might be invalidated when you move. On the other hand, if you want to disinherit someone and you’ve recently left a state that doesn’t allow such provisions, you’ll want to take advantage of your new state’s laws and modify your will accordingly.

Your will should also reflect any changes you’ve made to your financial or familial situation as a result of your move. If you’ve purchased a new house, for example, you should update your will to reflect your current assets.

How to protect your will after moving to another state

To ensure that your will is valid, optimized for the laws of your new state, and structured in a way that fulfills your wishes, it’s wise to consult an estate planning lawyer as soon as possible after your move. They can review your existing will and provide professional guidance on any changes that need to be made. 

Sometimes, the only change necessary is to add a codicil, an amendment-style document that adds, removes, or modifies the existing terms of the will. In other cases, making changes to your existing will might not be enough, and you may need to draft an entirely new document. It’s also possible that no changes are needed at all — in that case, you’ll simply enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your will fully reflects the laws of your new state.

When you work with a Fairfax estate planning attorney with Select Law Partners, PLLC, we thoroughly analyze your current will and explain the implications of any changes we suggest. We’ll also advise you on how to avoid potential pitfalls that could leave your will vulnerable to challenges after your move. 

With our help, you can feel confident that your will remains valid and appropriate. Schedule a consultation by calling (855) 541-4867.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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