What effect does moving to a different state have on a will?

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UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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Written By: Jeffrey JohnsonUPDATED: Jun 29, 2022Fact Checked

A Will that is properly made and properly executed (signed) in your former state of residence and that would be valid under the laws of your former state, will almost always be regarded as valid by the laws of your new state. However, as the laws of all states differ, if you move it makes sense to have your Will reviewed by a lawyer in your new state. Provisions that do not comply with the laws of the state where you have moved could result in higher probate costs or result in property being inherited in a way you didn’t intend.

For example, sometimes the new state has different processes to “prove” the Will. Or the new state may permit probate matters to be handled on a less formal and less expensive basis, simply by adding reference to certain specific statutory provisions in the new state’s laws to the Will.

Occasionally complications arise because different states have different classifications of property. For example, if your Will was executed in a state that does not have a community property system (common law or equitable distribution states) and you move to one of the 9 community property states, you may wish to get in touch with a Wills attorney to determine whether your Will should be redrafted to achieve your intended result. For example, if your Will uses a term like separate property, that term may mean different things in different states. So you need to make sure that the terminology in your Will produces the results you want.

The only reason why you might not want to update a Will would be in a situation where there have been health changes so that someone might question your competence if you change your Will while in your current condition. An attorney should be able to tell you if you can change your Will and how to protect against Will contests.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

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