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Relocation may necessitate revisiting estate plans

As many California residents know, moving -- whether for a job, school or retirement -- has become a way of life for many Americans. While moving may herald an opportunity or the realization of a lifelong dream, it may affect one's estate plans in unexpected ways.

An estate plan may contain a living will, which is a directive to healthcare professionals informing them of an individual's wishes concerning medical intervention. For instance, an incapacitated individual who is unable to choose one treatment option over another may identify what they want ahead of time. Decisions such as whether or not to utilize life support might also be made, and a medical power of attorney may be included. State laws or statutes are often used to create such documents, and when moving to another state, it might be a good plan to update them.

Likewise, wills and trust funds are written per the guidelines of a specific state and may reference pertinent statutes. A codicil, or a supplement to a will that may modify it, might be added. The same holds for a trust agreement.

When married couples move from a state with community property laws -- like California -- to a non-community property state, it might be beneficial to revisit their estate plans. This may allow them to take advantage of tax benefits in their new home state.

Estate plans are a way to make future decisions easier by planning ahead. Trusts written years ago may not be up to date. Change happens, including relocation, and an attorney may assist by updating and possibly revising estate documents. An attorney familiar with laws referenced in such plans as well as tax and trust statutes could provide guidance and help avoid future problems. While reevaluating estate plans may be a good thing to do in regular intervals, updating after a relocation or other major life change could be particularly crucial.

Source: The Spectrum , "Moving may affect estate planning", July 28, 2014

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