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New to North Carolina?
Time for an Estate Plan Refresh
Welcome to North Carolina. Whether you relocated here for a job, to be closer to loved ones, or for the nice weather – you made a great choice. North Carolina is a beautiful place to meet new people, raise a family, and retire.
Moving is the perfect time to tidy your life. As you declutter and reorganize, do not forget to update your estate plan. You might be asking yourself, do I really need to update my plan? The answer to your question is, it depends. The only way to know if your estate plan needs an update is to have a North Carolina licensed attorney review your current plan.
A complete will-based estate plan includes at minimum a last will and testament, financial power-of-attorney, healthcare power-of-attorney, HIPAA authorization, and living will. A complete trust-based estate plan includes all of the aforementioned documents as well as a trust.
What a North Carolina Attorney Looks for When You Move
The Focus of Your Plan
Estate plans have different focuses based upon each client’s goals. Some clients execute their plan with state estate taxes in mind. However, North Carolina does not have an estate tax. An attorney will review your plan to determine if your plan contains provisions that are specific to your previous state’s tax laws. The inclusion of state specific tax law provisions and state choice of law provisions can cause confusion in administration in North Carolina. Often, it is best to simply execute a new last will and testament. This ensures that your last will and testament does exactly what you intend for it to do.
Every estate planning document requires you to appoint individuals to serve in different roles. Some of these roles best serve the estate when they live close to you. An attorney will review your plan to see if your executors, attorneys-in-fact, and healthcare representatives remain practical. Because of logistical reasons, the process of administering an estate from afar is more time-consuming and expensive. So, an out-of-state executor faces greater difficulties in administering an estate than an in-state executor. Thus, an attorney may suggest that you revise your estate plan to include more sensible appointments.
Estate planning healthcare documents are state specific. An attorney reviewing your estate plan will almost always advise you to update your healthcare power-of-attorney, HIPAA authorization, and advanced healthcare directive, such as a living will. Because these documents are state specific, your healthcare documents executed in your previous home state are ineffective in North Carolina. Therefore, it is essential to update your healthcare documents every time you move to a new state.
Location of Your Real Property
An effective estate plan takes into consideration your real estate. An attorney reviewing your estate plan would look to identify where your real property is located. Even if your estate plan is valid under North Carolina law, your real property located outside of North Carolina may not be governed by probate proceedings in North Carolina. This means that, in addition to your personal property passing through North Carolina probate, your executor must conduct additional legal proceedings to administer your real property located outside of North Carolina. For this reason, an attorney may suggest that you deed your real property to a revocable trust. Properly doing so may allow your estate to avoid the probate process entirely.
This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information is for general informational purposes only. Contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to your particular legal matter.