Critter Corner: Should new Virginia residents Update their Out-of-State Estate Planning Documents?

Dear Ernie and Janette,

I recently moved to Northern Virginia from Florida to be near my children and grandchildren. Although I really miss the warmer weather, I adore having family close by. I went to an estate planning attorney when I was in Florida and got all my documents done. Do I need to update them now that I live in Virginia?

Dewey Neednudocks

Dear Dewey,

Should you get the documents converted to Virginia documents? No. Should you have a Certified Elder Law Attorney in Virginia review the out-of-state documents? Absolutely.

Estate Planning Lawyer in Virginia

In general, Wills or Living Trusts that are valid in one state should be valid in all states. However, if you’ve recently moved, it’s highly recommended that you consult with an experienced estate planning attorney in your new state. This is because states can have very different laws regarding all aspects of estate planning. Perhaps even more importantly, because you mention you are a grandmother (and therefore probably over age 65), you should meet with an experienced Virginia Elder Law Attorney, not just an estate planning attorney. Typical estate planning attorneys only help you avoid lifetime probate (using powers of attorney and advance medical directives) and avoid after-death probate (using a revocable living trust). But people over 65 face special additional needs, specifically the need for long-term care planning, which often involves the creation of a special type of asset protection trust called the Living Trust Plus™, which protects your assets from after-death probate, plus lawsuits, plus Medicaid after five years, plus veterans benefits after three years if you or your spouse was a wartime veteran.

Also, when it comes to a Financial Power of Attorney (POA), it’s wise to execute a POA in the new state, for many practical reasons and legal ones.

Also, regardless of where you live and whether you have moved, it’s a wise idea to get your Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Incapacity Planning documents reviewed at least every 3-5 years (although for your Power of Attorney, Evan generally recommends it be re-signed every year since many banks won’t accept a POA that’s more than a year old). Similarly, the older an Advance Medical Directive is, the less likely it is that it will be honored by a doctor or hospital. With the tax laws that went into effect this year, it is especially important to have your legal and financial situation reviewed as soon as possible.

Estate planning documents should also be reviewed during major life changes such as death of a spouse, remarriage, birth of a new child or grandchild, and more. See the entire list here. The reason for updating your planning documents during these life changes is that it’s the only way to ensure that your estate plan truly reflects who you are, what you care about, and what you have.

Elder Care Lawyer in Virginia

Call us and be sure to ask about The Farr Law Firm’s Lifetime Protection Program (add link), which ensures that your documents are properly reviewed and updated as needed, so that they will always have the proper effect under the law.

Hop this is helpful,

Ernie and Janette

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