Has Your Move Made Your Will Invalid?

During our lifetimes, America has always been a mobile society. We travel and vacation far from home, probably no longer live in the city of our birth, and can expect our children to eventually move farther away than the next block. We may even have purchased a second home for vacationing, and commute between the two during retirement.  Moving can make your will invalid.

Maintaining houses in separate jurisdictions, especially states, can create many problems if not handled correctly. Just because you think you live in Queens doesn’t necessarily mean that you actually do, as any Queens probate lawyer will tell you.

For example, how many days did you spend at your house in Queens last year versus time spent at your other house(s)? If you spent the majority of the year away from New York City, even spread among several trips, you might have inadvertently become a “resident” of that locale and state against your intentions. As a result, you might experience unintentional changes such as:

– Where you can vote, or for whom you can vote in a primary.

– To which state and locale you owe income taxes, or if the taxes need to be apportioned. For that matter, different jurisdictions may tax and exempt different sources of income. How do you handle these when you maintain several residences?

– You may owe taxes on an income stream that was previously untaxed, such as Social Security.

– Exemptions from taxes, such as special real estate tax treatment of veterans or senior citizens.

– Local benefits, such as subsidized services for residents.

– Applicability of any will your will lawyer executed in New York.

– Validity of your wishes as documented by your living will lawyer

– Validity of the named executor as documented by your estate planning attorney.

– Probate rules and regulations anticipated by your New York probate lawyer.

And, the situation gets even more complicated if you retire to a country other than the United States. It is almost certain that the documents you executed in New York will not be valid there.

If you stay too long in a new place during a given year and you expect that pattern to continue, many of the formal legal documents you have signed may need to be changed. You may even need to appoint new or contingent representatives for your living will and estate. At the very least, the documents will need to be updated to reflect your new circumstances.

You need to be proactive. If you are definitely making a move, or even just contemplating one, schedule a conference with us first by calling 1-718-544-1000. We can help you identify and anticipate problems, and help you find solutions to protect your rights and assets to the fullest degree possible. Even if we don’t have direct experience with the laws of the state or country in question, we can refer you to competent counsel from within our vast network of probate lawyers throughout the world.

“Protect your assets, don’t let the courts decide who gets your estate.”