Updating Your Estate Plan When You Move

Updating Your Estate Plan When You Move

Updating your estate plan when you move is essential. But why you ask? Don’t I already have enough on my plate?

I’m unpacking, settling into the house, enrolling the kids into their new schools and making new friends. Now you tell me I need to update my estate planning documents?!

Why Update?

I get it. Moving is stressful. I have moved several times to different states during my lifetime. Every single move was stressful, time consuming and tiring. The last thing I needed was to add any extra items to my ever growing moving check list.

But, you need to make time to have your estate documents reviewed. You see, every state has their own laws regarding estate plans. You need to make sure your estate plan complies with your new state’s laws and requirements.

Formal Requirements

For instance, here in North Carolina, your will must be witnessed by two non-related witnesses in your presence and notarized by a notary public also in your presence. Other states only require that your will be notarized. Or, that only two witnesses sign as verification.

Handling of out-of-estate Executors

Also, you may need to change your executor. Some states, such as North Carolina prefer that the executor be located in North Carolina. In the case of North Carolina, your out-of-state executor will be required to appoint an in-state agent to accept legal documents for the estate. Furthermore, some states even make out-of-state executors file bonds along with other special requirements to fulfill.

Marital Property

You need to know how your new state treats marital property. Community Property states treat marital property as being owned jointly. Common law states each spouse owns property that is in his or her name. So, if a spouse is not listed jointly on a deed in a common law state, only the Grantee spouse is the owner. So, the language in a community property state will is much different than in a common law state will.


Probate also varies by each state. Some states have a very simple probate process. Other states have more complex probate procedures. So, you need to make sure your will enables your executor to perform all the duties necessary to administer your estate in your new state.

Meet Tom and Mary Prepared

Here is the story of Tom and Mary Prepared.  Tom and Mary lived in Ohio.  While they love the summers there, the never-ending winters are tiring.  The brutal cold weather began taking its toll on their health.

Their grandchildren lived in North Carolina. So Tom and Mary rarely saw them.  Tom and Mary missed their grandchildren.

So, Tom and Mary Prepared decide to move to North Carolina to be closer to their children. They hire a moving truck and before you know it, they are North Carolina residents.

After being in North Carolina a few months, Tom and Mary go to a holiday party in their neighborhood. They meet an estate planning attorney there.  On the way home, Tom looked at Mary and asked “Do you think we should make an appointment with that nice lady attorney we met?”  Mary looked at Tom and said “But didn’t we have our wills done in Ohio? Why would we need to meet with an estate planning attorney here?

What Should Tom and Mary Do?

Now the question is: do you think Tom & Mary Prepared should have called that nice estate planning attorney? Or, should they just assume their will was valid here in their new home state?  Well, the correct answer is that they probably should have done so. 


Whenever you move to a new state, it is always a good idea to call your local estate planning attorney to have them review your current will. 

One, your estate attorney can tell you if your will satisfies the requirements for a valid will in your new state. 

Two, your estate attorney can make sure that you significant life changes have occurred that would necessitate the changing of your current will. 

Three, your estate attorney can include state specific language that may be needed.

Four, your estate attorney can offer you suggestions of new things you may wish to include in your will.

Regardless, when you move to a new state, it is always a good idea to schedule an appointment with a local estate planning attorney to review your current will.