Do I Need A New Estate Plan If I Move to a New State?

If I had to pick one question that I am asked the most, I’d have to say this one ranks way up there…

Do I need a new estate plan if I move out of California?

Just like the answer to most estate planning questions, the answer is “it depends.” However, this one has a pretty simple explanation.

All estate plans should include these basic documents; a will, a health care directive, a financial power of attorney, and guardian nominations if you have minor children. These documents are state-specific and will need to be updated in accordance with your new state law requirements. (Although many states recognize documents created in other states, I wouldn’t rely on that.)


Many estate plans also include a Trust. A Trust is a legal document that allows a third party (called a trustee) to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. Trusts can be set up in many ways and allow you to specify exactly how and when your assets pass to your beneficiaries.

If you have a Trust, it is a contract and, as such, is valid in any state. This means that if you change your state of residence, it does not necessarily need to be updated simply because you moved to another state.

However… (Yes, another one!)

Each state has specific laws that may affect your estate plan, and your plan may need to be modified to take full advantage of that. The most common difference from state to state is tax law. Some states have a state-specific estate tax. If your new state of residence has an estate tax, you may need to plan for it, depending on your net worth.

California does not have a state-level estate tax. Therefore, our plans do not have to take that extra tax into account.

If you move from California, you will need to check with an estate planning attorney in your new state of residence to determine if your trust needs to be updated. If you need a referral to an estate planning attorney near you to get the process started, please contact us at (650) 422-3313.

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