Inspired by our recent move, in this week’s blog post we are sharing a little advice about estate
planning updates to consider when you move. Here are six questions to ask yourself when
moving to keep your estate plan in good health:
- Have you moved to a new state? If so, it’s time to review your existing estate planning documents. The laws that govern estates, trusts, and property ownership can vary widely from state to state, so it’s prudent to have an attorney in your new state examine your documents and update them, if necessary, to comport with state law.
- Have you changed banks? If you are a person who prefers to bank with smaller, local banks, even an in-state move might require you to change financial institutions. If so, remember to pay attention to your titling. If accounts are to be jointly-owned, check with your new institution to find out whether, at the death of the first joint owner, the surviving joint owner automatically owns the account. If you have a revocable trust, it may make sense (depending on the specifics of your plan) to title checking, savings, and investment accounts in the name of your trust. Some institutions will also allow you to place a transfer on death or “TOD” designation on your accounts. Titling accounts intentionally, rather than allowing the bank’s “default settings” to determine titling, is key to maintaining a working estate plan.
- Are you buying a new house? Again, if your previous residence was titled in the name of your revocable trust, remember to title your new one in the same way. Married individuals may prefer to title their residence jointly with a right of survivorship or in some states (like Virginia), as “tenants by the entirety.” If you have questions about the best way to title your real estate, contact an estate planning attorney in your state.
- Do your fiduciaries still make sense? After spouses, we often see clients name family members or friends as fiduciaries based on their geographic proximity. If you’re moving, do these choices still make sense? Take a look at your documents (don’t forget to check who you’ve named as guardian for your minor children, if any) and, if an update is needed, start brainstorming about who to name instead.
- Are you moving to take a new job? If so, you will probably be filling out plenty of paperwork in the first few days, but don’t forget to pay special attention to your beneficiary designations on any new benefits that come with the job. People sometimes fill in these forms without giving much thought to their choices, thinking that they will update their beneficiaries later, when they have more time to devote to the task. If you do not take the time to name beneficiaries carefully, or forget to revisit these forms later, you may have an asset that does not pass in synch with the rest of your estate plan.
- Where are you keeping your estate planning documents? Make sure you tell your fiduciaries (and, if you remember, your estate planning firm) where you will be storing your estate planning documents in your new location, in case the need arises for them to gain access.
If you are anticipating a move, or just have questions about updating estate planning
documents, call us and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!