As most of you know, my family moved from our beloved home in Ann Arbor, Michigan to the Dallas area in 2015 for my husband’s job as Senior Counsel for Toyota. It was a wonderful opportunity for him and we thought we would try to “expand our horizons” by living somewhere other than Michigan where we both have lived our whole lives. That means the estate planning documents we prepared in Michigan were no longer valid. Relocating to another state requires a review and updating of your estate planning documents. Like many parents of young kids, I kept putting this off because I can rarely get a block of uninterrupted time to think about this. But this gave me anxiety so this week, I finally got around to drafting our Texas health care and financial powers of attorney and amended our Wills and our Joint Trust to bring it in compliance with Texas law. (Caveat: I am not yet licensed to practice in Texas but I was able to research enough to draft it on my own but I could not legally or ethically do this for other clients.) If, god forbid, I were to suffer a medical emergency and be unable to make health decisions for myself, the hospital here in Texas may not honor my Michigan health care documents. This would put extra stress on my husband. And it does not help that we have no other family in Texas to help out in the event of an emergency. So it really was for our peace of mind to have our Texas estate planning documents done and over with to make whatever emergency we have slightly less stressful while we are here in Texas.
In addition to updating our estate planning documents when you move to another state, it is important to always review account ownership and beneficiary designations at the same time too. This applies even when you are just changing jobs or providers. For example, last year we consolidated all of our investment accounts to a different provider and had to update the ownership of those accounts to our Joint Trust. Another example: my husband’s employer migrated its entire benefits platform to a new provider so that means we had to be proactive about updating the beneficiary designations for our life insurance policies and for his retirement accounts (the migration didn’t automatically transfer our beneficiary designations to the new platform).
Estate planning is not just about signing your documents – it requires a regular review of all of your assets and accounts to ensure they align with your estate plan.