Is my Will still valid if I move to another state? 

The short answer is “yes, it is still valid,” but you should develop a relationship with a lawyer in your new community and tweak the documents as advised.

After your death, your Executor will produce your Will to the Probate Court who will determine that the document produced is your Last Will and Testament and oversee the administration of your estate.  This is called “probate”.  Probate laws are state laws, so while the states give “full faith and credit” to the laws of other states as required by the United States Constitution, and thus a Will validly executed in Georgia by a person domiciled in Georgia will be respected as valid by every other state, each state’s legislature develops rules and procedures that may make it easier or more difficult to administer your estate.

For example, when you sign a Will in our office, you and your witnesses also sign a “self-proving affidavit” in front of a notary where you all swear that the Will was executed properly.  This is done so that it is not necessary* to locate the witnesses when you die so that they can swear that the Will was executed properly.  Georgia requires that certain specific statements be made in this affidavit, and these statements are not required by most other states.  Thus, while Georgia respects the validity of an out-of-state Will, it is often necessary to locate the witnesses to that Will.  This can be avoided by executing a simple amendment with a Georgia self-proving affidavit.

Additionally, states differ on whether you can waive bond for your Executor, waive court accountings, and other items that impact the cost of probate.  In some states, the cost of probate is so great that a goal of estate planning is to avoid probate altogether!  Finally, doctors and hospitals are accustomed to health care directives from their own state, and having a form familiar to doctors can decrease confusion when important decisions are being made about your end of life care.

If you have just moved to Georgia, we will be happy to update your estate planning to add all the bells and whistles that make Georgia probate so inexpensive and easy.  If you are a past client of Legacy Studio and are moving from Georgia to another state, we will be happy to coordinate with your new attorney and to send documents electronically so that you can avoid duplication of services and costs.    The bulk of your planning was in making decisions about who will handle your affairs, who your beneficiaries will be, and how your estate is distributed to the beneficiaries.  These items need not change with a move between states.

*Of course if there is a Will contest regarding your capacity or other issue with your Will, the witnesses to the execution may be needed as witnesses in the contest.

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