Many people pull up stakes when they retire, and move somewhere warm and sunny. Or, they may move just to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Whatever the reason for the move, there are lots of decisions to make, and one that is especially important involves estate planning.
This is because states often have very different laws about estate planning, depending on whether they follow common law or community property rules.
In a community property state, the spouses each have a half share of all property earned or acquired during their marriage, with the exception of any property that one of them owned previous to the marriage, or received through a gift or inheritance (there are a few other exceptions). One attribute of community property states is that there is no requirement for either spouse to leave his or her share to the other one.
In common law states, property is treated differently. Any property accumulated during the marriage is not automatically owned by both spouses — it is owned by the person who acquired it. He or she is free to share it with a spouse or not. There are usually rules in common law states that protect a spouse from being disinherited, but it is still an important difference in the way property is treated, and it can affect what the surviving spouse ultimately is entitled to.
The bottom line is, if a couple moves from one state to another in their retirement years, the status of their property ownership can change, and it’s important for estate planning purposes to understand all the ramifications of this. If you need expert advice about estate planning, contact Grissom Law, LLC at 678-781-9230. We work with individuals and families to develop estate plans and to probate estates.
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