There is so much to do when you move: packing, house hunting, turning utilities off and on, updating your address, and many more tasks. One thing you may not have thought about is whether you should update your estate plan. When you move to another state, the new state may have laws that differ from the ones in your current state. While these differences may not invalidate your estate plan, they can complicate matters and prolong the probate process. By updating your estate plan when you move to a new state, you ensure that your loved ones are still cared for the way you intend upon your death. If you have recently moved to California from another state, you may want to review your estate plan with one of the San Francisco experienced estate planning attorneys with Von Rock Law by calling (866) 720-0195 to schedule your personalized consultation.
What Are the Two Key Documents Used to Prepare an Estate Plan?
There are several documents that can be created to prepare a complete estate plan. One of the key documents that form the core of any estate plan is a Last Will and Testament. This essential document is in many cases accompanied by a Trust. A will is a document that outlines who gets which assets. A trust is a container that holds assets for the benefit of beneficiaries and is administered by a trustee. If you need to update your will or your trust, Von Rock Law may be able to help.
Both documents may require some revisions after moving to another state, or in the wake of other major life changes. Other documents included in an estate plan that may need revisions include:
- Advance health care directive
- Power of attorney
- HIPPA authorization
- Beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement accounts
- Funeral instructions
What Should Cause You to Revisit Your Estate Plan?
Most people should revisit their estate plans at least every three to five years. As life goes on, relationships, jobs, and other circumstances change. These things may cause an estate plan to fall out of date, so regular reviews can ensure that timely revisions are made, and that the estate plan is current.
Common events that should make people revisit their estate plans to ensure these are current include:
- Moving to another state
- Birth or adoption of a new child or grandchild
- When a child or grandchild reaches adulthood
- Death or change of circumstances for the guardian of minor children
- Child or grandchild needs funding for education
- Change in financial or other goals
- Marriage, divorce, or death of spouse
- Illness or disability of spouse or individual
- Change in long-term care or life insurance
- Significant increases or decreases in value of assets
- Buying or selling of a home or another large asset
- Federal or state law changes regarding taxes or investments
- Career changes, including new jobs, promotions, starting or closing a business
Why Is It Important to Update Your Estate Plan?
An estate plan is not something you create and then forget until it is needed. There are many reasons you need to update your estate plan regularly.
Peace of Mind
An updated estate plan provides peace of mind to the person who created it, as well as to their loved ones. The estate owner knows that their specific wishes will be carried out. They also feel a greater sense of control over their wealth and belongings.
Easier To Settle Estate
When you update your estate plan, you ensure that it can move more quickly through probate with minimal issues. A quicker probate process means that your assets are distributed and that the estate can be closed faster, allowing your loved ones to begin moving on.
Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and payable- and transfer-on-death accounts are just a few examples of assets that have beneficiary designations. These designations include beneficiary names and contact information. This information can change. If someone has just moved to another state, and particularly if those beneficiaries have moved with them, this contact information may need to be updated.
Relevance of Executors, Trustees, or Agents
In addition to beneficiaries, estate plans often include executors, trustees, or agents. These roles are often filled with people that the estate’s owner trusts to manage their assets, take guardianship of their minor children, or otherwise handle an important part of their estate. Sometimes these relationships can change and a person who was once given a trusted role has died or had a falling out with the estate owner. Updating the estate ensures that the estate will always be managed by those you trust.
Is a Trust Tied to a State?
A will is considered valid in every state, regardless of which state it was written and signed in. Trust laws can vary from state to state, though. While trusts are generally considered valid in all states, the slight differences in laws mean that it is a good idea to update your estate plan to ensure that your trust is aligned with the laws of the state you are currently living in. This ensures that your estate does not get caught up in probate due to a small difference in the law.
Division of Marital Property
The California Courts state that California is a community property state. This means that what you earn, own or owe during the marriage is split between you equally. Additionally, if you lived outside of California for part of your marriage, you may also have what is called quasi-community property. If you moved here from an equitable distribution state such as Florida, where marital property is distributed fairly but not necessarily equally, your trust may need a few revisions to reflect the way marital property is divided in California.
Include and Exclude Assets
Most people, when moving from one state to another, will sell some assets and buy others. Residential property including a house is probably the most common example of an asset that someone may both buy and sell when moving. If the house and the land on which it is located, in the original state, were included in the trust, and the trust owner wants to include the new house and property, they will need to update the trust to remove the house and property that were sold and add the house and property purchased.
Write a Pour-Over Will
Many people intend for all of their assets to be placed in their trust. Unfortunately, someone may have a new asset and before they can place it in the trust or name an heir in their will, they die. Assets not named in the will or placed in the trust are typically probated as if there was no will. However, the individual can write what Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, calls a pour-over will. This type of document ensures that any assets not included in the trust are automatically included in it when the individual dies.
Do You Need to Update Your Estate Plan After Moving to California?
If you have recently moved to the San Francisco, California area, or if you have had other changes that may require updating your estate plan, it is a good idea to do that sooner rather than later. Give yourself and your loved ones the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if you become incapacitated or die, your estate will pass smoothly to your loved ones in the way you intended. If you are ready to prepare or update your estate plan, consider consulting with the experienced estate planning attorneys with Von Rock Law by calling (866) 720-0195 to schedule an appointment and go over your legal options.