Establishing a comprehensive estate plan is essential for ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. However, creating an estate plan is not a one-time event. An estate plan must also regularly be updated, especially when major life changes happen. If you are moving to Texas, several components of your estate plan may need to be updated. At Jason English Law, our team of experienced Texas estate planning lawyers helps our clients create, review, and update their estate plans to ensure that their unique needs are met. Contact us today at (512) 454-7548 to learn more about how to update your estate plan after moving to Texas.
Why Is It Important To Update Your Estate Plan?
Major life changes––such as the birth of a child, a new marriage or divorce, the purchase of a new home, or the death of a spouse––require an overview and updates to your estate plan. When moving to a new state, an estate plan may need to be updated to comply with different laws in your new state of residency. Texas has unique state laws and procedures related to probate, which can impact the way the assets of an estate are distributed.
In addition, if you have moved far away from the people that you designated as executors, financial power of attorneys, and medical powers of attorneys, these individuals may need to be changed to people who live closer to you. For example, the person currently holding your medical power of attorney may not be able to travel to Texas in the event of a medical emergency. Your estate plan will also need to be updated to remove properties from your previous state if you sold them, and any new properties you purchase in Texas should be added.
Does Texas Recognize Out-of-State Wills?
Out-of-state wills are recognized in Texas and may be probated in Texas courts. However, Texas has several unique provisions for the document known as a Last Will and Testament that an out-of-state will may lack. Probate is handled differently in Texas compared to many other states, in a process known as independent probate. This form of probate is much less restricted than probate in other states, with very little court interaction and stronger debtors' rights. But if an out-of-state will does not have specific language mentioning an independent executor, then a Texas probate court may decide whether the will may be handled independently.
The Texas Estates Code also has something called a self-proving affidavit, which means that there is no requirement to have witnesses come to court to testify that a will is valid. Instead, the executor of a will can attend the first probate hearing themselves to begin the probate process. This process is much less complicated than the probate process in states that require witnesses. If an out-of-state will does not include a Texas self-proving affidavit provision, the beneficiaries of the will may need to find two witnesses who saw the estate owner sign the will. In other words: Even though an out-of-state will may be recognized in Texas, it is often a good idea to update your estate plan and create a new will based on Texas probate laws.
What Estate Planning Documents Should Be Updated When Moving to Texas?
A well-structured, comprehensive estate plan in Texas should include the “magnificent seven” estate planning documents. People who are moving to the state may already have these seven documents in their existing estate plans, but they should be updated either before or shortly after your move to the Longhorn state.
Last Will and Testament
The will is one of the most important parts of an estate plan and every adult should have one. As previously mentioned, Texas probate laws are designed to simplify the process of executing a will. The will should be updated to account for the state's unique probate processes, including the designation of an independent executor and a provision for self-proving affidavit.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
The durable financial power of attorney is used to appoint an agent who will be responsible for handling the estate owner's finances if they die or become incapacitated. In Texas, this agent can be granted explicit authority on financial decisions. This document should be updated to include language that mentions Texas-specific statutory protections.
Medical Power of Attorney
The medical power of attorney designates an agent who will have the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Texas has a state-specific statutory form for this document, so you should update your medical power of attorney with this form. This will also make it easier for medical facilities and doctors in Texas to follow the instructions of the individual designated in this document.
Also known as a directive to physicians, this document is provided to doctors to notify them of your wishes if a health problem becomes terminal or irreversible. If you are diagnosed with a terminal disease and you are unable to verbally state your wishes, your directive notifies physicians and your loved ones if you want them to administer or withhold life-sustaining healthcare. Texas also has a state-specific statutory form for directives to physicians.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law designed to protect patient privacy. In estate planning, a HIPAA release allows insurance providers to give your medical information to the agent listed in a medical power of attorney. The release grants the rights to access your medical records, the records of your children, and the records of a designated representative. The office of the Texas Attorney General provides a general form that covers both federal HIPAA and the Texas Medical Privacy Act.
If you are a parent of a minor child, your estate plan should include a document that designates who will become the guardian of your minor children should you pass away. In Texas, you can specify who should serve as the guardian. You may also prohibit specific people from being appointed as guardian.
Agent for Burial
The designation of an agent for burial outlines your wishes for how your body should be disposed of and designates a person who will have the authority to carry out these directives. These documents are typically provided to Texas funeral homes to let them know whether the deceased person prefers to be buried or cremated.
Learn More From Our Texas Estate Planning Lawyers
If you are planning to move to Texas, you will need to update your estate plan as soon as possible in order to prevent complications and ensure your wishes are fulfilled if you pass away or become incapacitated. This process can be complicated, but the experienced estate planning lawyers at Jason English Law can help. Contact us today at (512) 454-7548 for more information.