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Moving to California? Look at Your Current Estate Plan

Are you moving to California from another state? If so, now is a good time to start thinking about your existing estate planning documents, such as your will, trust, advanced directive, and power of attorney. You likely spent a lot of time preparing those documents, and you probably hired a lawyer to draft them. Will you need to, or should you, create new ones from scratch once you move to sunny California?

Unfortunately, not all states have the same legal requirements when it comes to estate planning documents. So, if you drafted an estate plan in another state, it’s wise to consult with an attorney in California to make sure everything is valid here, not to mention up to date. The goal is to make sure your estate planning documents meet the legal requirements in California, where you’ll be residing.

The Good News

You may be thinking, “Oh no, does that mean I have to do it all over again from scratch?” We have good news for you – you’ve already done most of the heavy lifting. You have already looked into it and decided which documents you wanted to incorporate into your overall estate plan.

You have also decided on your goals and what you want those documents to accomplish for your loved ones and beneficiaries. What does that mean? It means you’re already ahead of the game and it shouldn’t be difficult to create new documents that reflect your wishes, whatever they may be.

Are your estate planning documents more than five years old? Or, has there been a major change in your family? For example, have you married or divorced, has a child been born, or has someone passed away? If you’ve had any major changes in your life since you last drafted them, it’s a good time to review them anyway.

California is a Community Property State

California is one of nine states that is a “community property” state. According to Investopedia, community property states “require equal distribution of assets acquired during a marriage.” If you’re married and you’re moving from an equitable distribution state to California, a community property state, the rules about what assets and property you and your spouse own could change.

In equitable distribution states, assets and debts in one spouse’s name alone are basically theirs, but in community property states, the spouses have a 50 percent interest in marital assets and debts acquired during the marriage.

If you move from an equitable distribution state to a community property state like California, the state could treat all of your property acquired during the marriage as community property (as if it’s owned equally by you and your spouse), even if that’s not what you wish. In that case, it may be wise to create a new will.

If you’re moving to California or if you recently moved here, contact Nguyen Law Group for a review of your estate planning documents drafted in another state.