If you have recently moved or are moving states soon, make sure you evaluate your Last Will and Testament. To ensure your final wishes are carried out exactly as you specify, check state laws concerning the legality of your will.
Do You Have to Change Your Will After Moving States?
Once you switch legal residence to a different state, you have to change a few things. Your driver’s license, automobile plates, phone number, etc. change to identify you as a citizen of the new state. However, many people wonder if changing states makes their Last Will and Testament invalid.
In and of itself, changing states does not make your will invalid. Your will is your will, regardless. However, state laws vary concerning some finer details within your will. A certain specification within your will might be legal in Florida, but not in New York.
There’s no need to start from scratch. However, it is a good idea to look at state laws concerning your Last Will and Testament. Then, compare those laws to the state where your will was signed.
Common Issues that Vary Between States
So, what might cause you to make changes to your will? State laws tend to vary concerning the following issues.
In most states, you must have at least 2 witnesses sign your will. Where the difference arises is in who is allowed to be your witness. In some states, your beneficiaries can be your witnesses. In other states, your witnesses must be neutral parties not listed as beneficiaries.
Again, check the laws of your new residence state. Even if your new state does not allow beneficiaries as witnesses, most states follow the laws of the place your will was signed. This means that if your beneficiary acted as a witness in a state where that is legal, and then you move to a state where it is not legal, the new state will abide by the old state’s laws.
Another factor to consider when moving states, is the disinheritance of children. Some states allow you to simply leave your child’s name off the will, and they will not receive any of your inheritance. On the other hand, some states require you to specifically state your choice to disinherit your child, or to grant them a nominally small amount of money, just to show that you did not forget them.
Many times, the state where your Last Will and Testament was signed will be considered if you attempt to change your tax domicile. If you move from one state to another and wish to change your tax regulations, your will may be evaluated as a “proof of residence” factor. For this reason, if you are changing your tax domicile, you might want to change your will also. Run this by your lawyer to verify the best course of action.
Marriages and Divorces
Some states do require a new will to be made upon a new marriage or divorce. Other states simply remove your spouse as a beneficiary. It is important to update your will after every major life event (including job changes and new children) to avoid confusing scenarios, especially in new states.
If you move from a common law state to a community property state, make sure you do your research regarding the state’s Last Will laws. Community property states specify that any asset acquired after marriage becomes shared property between the individuals. Common law states allow each spouse to own individual property. If you attempt to designate a beneficiary of what is legally considered joint property, this could affect your final will and wishes.