When you move to California, you may need to make some important changes to your estate plan. California’s laws differ from some other states and many other countries, so the language in your plan or its structure might not work correctly here.
How Are the Laws Different?
Each state in the United States has its own estate planning, trust, and probate laws. The laws are slightly different from state to state, depending on what the legislature has passed. United States laws are also very different from many other countries’ estate and trust laws. Some countries have a “forced heirship” system, and some have different estate and gift tax regimes.
As a result, the language in your will, trust, or power of attorney may simply not have the effect that you intended once you move to California. For example, the laws vary quite a bit for trusts with non-U.S. citizen or California resident trustees or beneficiaries. The trust or beneficiaries could end up owing more money in taxes as a result.
What Do You Need to Change?
You should speak to an attorney about doing a comprehensive review of your estate plan after you move. Documents that may need review could include your will, your trusts, your power of attorney or advance directive, business succession agreements, and any retirement accounts or life insurance.
If you have an advance directive, for example, you may want to sign the California-specific format. You also may want a POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). That way doctors can quickly recognize and acknowledge your wishes for medical treatment and care.
Also, you may want to change the law that governs your trust. Somewhere in your trust’s legal formation document, it probably says that the laws of a particular state will govern trust administration. Now that you live in California, it may simply be easier to have California law apply.
Further, you may want to change your chosen trustee, agent, or proposed guardian for children. It can be very inconvenient to work with someone who lives far away, especially if he or she really needs to be there in person to make appropriate decisions. You can talk to your lawyer about picking a new person in charge.
Even if your estate plan does not need any major changes because you moved to California, it is a very good idea to review it after a big move. You might have changed your mind about inheritances or other aspects of the plan.
Planning your estate? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.