Huntsville, Alabama is a booming city that has received many accolades including, “Best Place to Retire for Affordability,” “#1 City in North America for Tech Growth Potential,” #1 Best Place to Live in Alabama,” and ranked #1 and #2 “Best Place to Live in the U.S.” in 2022 and 2023, respectively. People from all over the country are moving here. As an estate planning lawyer in Huntsville, Alabama, I am often asked whether a last will and testament drafted in another state is valid in Alabama. Their concern is, if they were to die in Alabama before making changes to their Will, can their estate planning documents be used here?
Is My Will Valid in Huntsville, Alabama?
Chances are the answer is yes. However, like any good attorney will say, it depends. You need to meet with an Alabama licensed estate planning lawyer and ask her to review your documents. There are things we have to look at to determine if that will is valid in Alabama.
When someone who recently moved to Huntsville meets with me to review their documents to determine if they are valid and enforceable in Alabama, I look for whether the Will, had it been prepared in Alabama, complies with Alabama law. Also, does the Will comply with the laws of the state in which it was prepared? That is, when that Will was signed, did it comply with that state’s laws?
Is My Power of Attorney Valid in Huntsville, Alabama?
Much like the answer to that question for a Will, your power of attorney is likely valid, but it depends. Again, I must review it to see if the power of attorney complies with Alabama law, had it been prepared in Alabama. Like the Will, you need to consult with an Alabama estate planning lawyer to review your power of attorney and all estate planning documents.
Should I Get New Estate Planning Documents When I Move to Alabama?
It is best practice to update your documents to reflect your current residence in Alabama. This will avoid confusion that could cause delays in your Agent using the power of attorney or your beneficiaries receiving their inheritance. Additionally, most estate planning documents state you are a resident of “X’ county in “Y” state and, if you are no longer a resident of that state, it makes sense to update the documents to reflect where you are now a resident. You want to make it as easy as possible for your Agent or Personal Representative to handle your affairs when you are no longer able or after you have died. Updating your documents to reflect your new home in Alabama will make it easier for them and your family.
Out of State Assets
Another very important consideration when you move to Alabama is whether you still have property in the old state. Do you still have a house, vacation home, or farm in the other state? If so, you must tell an estate planning lawyer. Do you have an account at the local bank where you moved from? A bank that doesn’t have a branch in Alabama? If so, you must tell an estate planning lawyer about that asset.
Assets in other states may require your Personal Representative to open a probate estate in that state to transfer those assets pursuant to your Will after your death. There are ways to avoid that burden on your Personal Representative. For example, you can designate a payable-on-death beneficiary on a bank account. For a house, you can prepare a trust and put the house in the trust. This is why it’s important to talk with an estate planning lawyer about these assets in other states.
Welcome to Huntsville, Alabama!
If you recently moved to Alabama, it is best you meet with an estate planning lawyer to review and update yourdocuments to reflect that you now call Sweet Home Alabama your home. And, as an Alabama native – welcome to Alabama the Beautiful!
Complimentary VIRTUAL Consultation
I’m Tanya Hendrix, Huntsville estate planning lawyer, and it will be my pleasure to welcome you to this State and assist you with your estate planning needs. Call me for a complimentary virtual appointment. You can call (256) 361-1221 or click HERE to pull up my calendar and schedule an appointment right now.