Is Your Will Still Valid When You Move To Pennsylvania?

There are many changes you must make when you move to a new state.  You have to update your driver’s license, voter registration and, yes, you have to update your last will and testament.

While your will should still technically be valid when you move to Pennsylvania, there may be differences in Pennsylvania’s laws that make certain provisions of your old will invalid.  Additionally, there are likely issues to be dealt with in PA that you did not confront in another state.  For example, PA has an inheritance tax that many states do not.  There are gifting and asset titling rules that could make thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of difference for Pennsylvania estates.  A PA attorney will be able to properly advise you of these issues so that your plan can be as efficient as possible.  Besides, moving is a good excuse to consult an attorney to make sure your estate plan in general is up to date.  Are your executors, trustees, guardians, trustees, and other fiduciaries still appropriate?  Is the inheritance that your children will receive properly protected from their divorcing spouse, creditors or other legal actions?  It is always good to review and update these important documents.

As you are considering a will update as you move to Pennsylvania, remember that property laws can vary from state to state. It is especially important to have your estate plan reviewed if you move from a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Louisiana, Washington, Nevada, Texas, Wisconsin, and Alaska) to Pennsylvania which is a common law state.  In a common law state each spouse’s property is owned individually, while in a community property state, property acquired during the marriage is considered community property. In addition, states may have different rules about when co-owned property may pass to the surviving owner and when it may pass under the will.

Other than your will, you should also know that Pennsylvania has very specific rules regarding the structure of both the financial and medical power of attorney documents.  There is also an accepted statutory living will used in PA.  It is very important to update these documents to comply with PA law so that the Agents under these documents can efficiently take care of your needs during your lifetime.  We want to make sure that the Agents in the Power of Attorney documents have quick and easy ability to act for you in both medical and financial emergencies.

In summation, it is very important to meet with an experienced estate planning advisor to review out of state documents when you move into Pennsylvania.  This could help you and your family avoid unforeseen pitfalls that arise from the change to PA law.

Some of the other most common planning considerations are:  creation of Last Will & Testament, creation of a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, use of a Medicaid Compliant Immediate Annuity, qualification of the Family Caregiver Exception, creation of the Caregiver Agreement, Irrevocable Burial Reserve, Monthly Gifting Exception, Elder Law Friendly Financial Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will.

Photo by Joey Csunyo on Unsplash

Check out our other great articles throughout this site that more specifically address the different ways to protect and preserve your assets.   Click here for more articles!

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For assistance developing a comprehensive estate plan or nursing home asset protection plan in Pennsylvania, please contact Douglas L. Kaune, Esquire at (610) 933-8069 or email him at Doug’s entire practice is focused on elder law, Medicaid application, estate planning, trust planning, estate administration and protection of clients’ assets from nursing home spending and estate and inheritance taxation. Unruh, Turner, Burke & Frees, P.C. is a full service law firm which has three convenient office locations in Phoenixville, West Chester and Paoli, Pennsylvania. The firm primarily services clients in Chester, Montgomery, Delaware, Philadelphia, Bucks and Berks Counties, but can represent clients throughout Pennsylvania.