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Q&A: Is the Estate Plan I Created in Another State Still Valid?

Posted by Neil Tyra | Jan 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

Hi there, Tyra Law Firm fans! Each week, I get questions in my inbox or in my client consultations about estate planning and how it works. Very often, these questions are the foundations of the blog posts and e-newsletters I write. This week, I wanted to draw particular attention to a question I have received a lot lately. If this question is relevant to you, or if you have any other questions about your estate plan, feel free to get in touch! Click here to schedule a quick, 15-minute phone call with me to get your questions answered! Your question may even inspire a future blog post!

I recently moved to the State of Maryland from Virginia. I had my estate plan done by an attorney in Virginia. Do I need to re-do my estate plan now that I live here? Is my Virginia Will still valid?

It depends!

You didn't expect an attorney to give you a straight answer, did you?? The truth is, legal matters are almost always more complicated than a simple yes or no question. However, I'll do my best to keep my answer simple and clear. Here it goes:

A basic estate plan should still remain effective even when you move to a new state. Although all states have different estate planning laws and processes, the general structure of estate planning is relatively similar from state to state. Just because you have moved to the State of Maryland doesn't mean your entire estate plan is garbage. However, a Maryland Court would look at your estate plan and determine which parts of it are in accordance with Maryland law and which are not.

At The Tyra Law Firm, we recommend that our estate planning clients check in and review their estate plans every three years or when a triggering event has occurred. Triggering events, such as deaths, marriages, major purchases, and moves can cause parts of an estate plan to change or become ineffective. If you have recently moved states, consider your move a triggering event and make an appointment to have your estate plan reviewed. As mentioned above, the fundamental parts of your estate plan may remain effective. However, the more nuanced parts of your plan that rely on state-specific laws may have changed. If you don't take the time to get your plan reviewed, it may not operate as expected when you need it.

Here's another thing to remember: your estate plan is far more than just your Will. A comprehensive estate plan includes your Will, Power of Attorney, Advance Medical Directive, Trust Instructions, and more! Each of these various documents will operate differently, depending on state laws. Not only may your loved ones be subject to a different probate process than expected, laws governing things like end of life care decisions and Power of Attorney can vary greatly. It is important that you have all of your estate plan reviewed by a local attorney. He or she can go through each part of your plan and explain to you how it will operate under local law. If your current plan does not function in a way that you prefer, you and the attorney can make changes to suit your estate planning goals. The great thing is, making adjustments to an existing estate plan often costs far less than creating a plan from scratch.

Remember: as a general rule, you should meet with an attorney every three years to make sure that your estate plan still creates the results you intend in the state where you live. If you experience a major life change, including moving to a new state, getting married or divorced, having a child, buying or selling property, or starting a new job, it is definitely time to make an appointment to get reviewed. To get started with The Tyra Law Firm, give our office a call at (301) 315-0811.

About the Author

Neil Tyra

Noel's Husband, Bernadette's Dad, Clark's Father – My Three Best Roles So who am I and what am I about? First I was Noel's husband. I'm married (38 years and counting) to a long time resident of Rockville whose family goes back three generations.

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