Does My Aunt Have to Update Estate Planning Documents if She Moves States?

 In Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, Wills
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Photo by Guille Álvarez on Unsplash

Question:

My 97-year-old aunt has lived in Hartford, CT, for the past 40 years, now in an assisted living facility. Her will and trust documents were drawn up in CT. If she were to move to a facility in the Boston area, what would happen to the documents drawn up in CT? Would a new will and trust document be required? New legal representation? (We already know the state estate tax would be about $100,000 more). She has no children and there is the possibility (somewhat remote, but still) of a challenge to her estate plan.

Response:

For the most part, your aunt would not have to change her plan. Under the US Constitution, all states must give “full faith and credit” to legal documents created in other states. That said, if your aunt moves, it would be wise to have her documents reviewed by a Massachusetts estate planning attorney just to make sure that there’s no unexpected consequences of moving to the new state. (It sounds like you’re already aware of the Massachusetts estate tax.) The two documents the attorney will likely advise updating, if your aunt still has capacity, are her durable power of attorney and health care proxy. This is for both legal and practical reasons. The state laws governing these two documents may be somewhat different. But more importantly, health care and financial institutions in Massachusetts are more accustomed to seeing Massachusetts documents and more likely to honor them without questions or challenges.

 

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