Whenever you experience a change in circumstances, such as moving states and acquiring new property, it is always a good idea to review your estate planning with an attorney to ensure that it up to date with current state laws and reflects your current wishes. If you have recently moved to Wisconsin, that is a great time to have your estate plan reviewed. The good news is that just because you moved, does not likely mean that you will have to start over with your estate planning, but there may be some important Wisconsin-based updates needed. A Wisconsin estate planning attorney can let you know how your current plan will operate in Wisconsin and let you know if there are any provisions specific to Wisconsin laws that were not accounted for properly.
If you have a will that was drafted in a different state before moving to Wisconsin, it will still be valid so long as it satisfies Wisconsin’s requirements of a valid will. These requirements include having the will in writing and having at least two disinterested witnesses at the time of signing.
In Wisconsin, your will may be changed through a codicil, which allows an individual to make amendments or changes at any time during their life. Some reasons that you may need a codicil to your will after moving to Wisconsin include, but are not limited to, changes to property, location of assets, location of beneficiaries, etc. For example, you may need to change the executor of your will if they live out of state. This is not only for practical reasons, in that the executor may have to handle matters in the decedent’s state, but also because Wisconsin law requires nonresidents to appoint an in-state resident to accept service of process and further, non-residency itself may be enough to disqualify an executor. See Wis Stat § 856.23.
A living trust, also known as a revocable trust, is transferrable between states. However, it is important to speak with an attorney to update your trust to include any new assets and discuss whether moving your trust’s situs, aka its home, is advisable. On the other hand, an irrevocable trust’s situs may or may not be transferrable depending on the language of the trust. You should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to understand the implications of having your trust’s situs in or out of state.
Similar to wills, it is advisable to have your trust’s situs as your state of residency. This is because unlike wills, which are attached to a person, trusts are entities governed by their respective state’s laws. Having a trust in a state other than your state of residency may require that your successor trustee hire an attorney in the state of the trust’s situs. Speaking with an attorney regarding your trust’s situs can help you understand other implications such as state fiduciary and inheritance taxes.
Transfer on Death Deed
A transfer on death deed allows property to be transferred to your beneficiaries without going through probate. If you have an existing transfer on death deed, it may need to be tweaked to reflect Wisconsin’s marital property laws. Moving to Wisconsin may make you to reconsider who is the beneficiary of your transfer on death deed. If it is the case that the beneficiary no longer seems appropriate, then you should speak with an attorney to revoke the deed and/or draft a new one.
Powers of Attorney
Your estate planning will typically include two kinds of powers of attorney (POA) – a financial power of attorney and a heath care power of attorney. The authority of someone granted to serve as a power of attorney is acknowledged in all states. However, moving is a perfect time to re-examine your agent selection. Wisconsin has adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA), along with 25 other states, which streamlines the laws governing POA’s. So, if your POA was created in a state that has not adopted the UPOAA, your POA could be challenged, and you should consult an attorney to clarify agent and grantor responsibilities.