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Where Tradition Meets the Future

Two Essential Things to Add to Your Moving Checklist

Moving to FloridaBy Amanda Dorio, Esq.

Beautiful weather, palm trees and sunshine are likely a few reasons why various surveys have landed Southwest Florida in the top places to live. WalletHub ranked Cape Coral among the top 100 Best Places to Raise a Family, and the Naples-Marco Island area ranked 10th among “Most Dynamic Metropolitans” in an annual report by Heartland Forward, a nonprofit institute for economic renewal that ranks 382 areas by their economic performance.

Of course, there is a lot to think about when moving: organizing and packing up your belongings, starting and stopping utilities, mail forwarding, updating voter registration, and so on. While the ever-growing number of items on your moving to-do list may be overwhelming, it is important not to overlook two essential items that should be added to your moving checklist: (1) locating your important documents and (2) meeting with your advisor team.

Locate your important documents

In the chaos of moving, it is easy for things to get lost in the shuffle or even thrown out during a move. Yet, important documents, such as birth certificates, social security cards, passports, financial statements and estate planning documents, should not be packed up and put on the moving truck along with your dishes and shoes. Keep these important documents safe and accessible during your move and ensure that they do not get thrown out by accident.

locked file cabinetOne idea is to purchase a portable file box with an attached lid and a secure latch. You might consider buying a brightly colored one so that it is easily identifiable. Then, place this file box in a secure and easily accessible location. If you are moving locally, a logical place might be a family member’s or friend’s home. If you are moving a long distance, that place might be the trunk of your car.

It is also wise to have electronic backup copies of all your important documents. This could take the form of taking pictures of your documents and saving them to your smartphone, a password-protected removable flash or external hard drive or storing them in the cloud. Then you will at least have a copy of these important documents in case you cannot locate the original.

Adding this simple step to your moving checklist will save you a lot of time and headache when, for example, you do not have to search unpacked boxes for your children’s birth certificates so that you can register them for their new school.

Meet with your advisor team

Along with contacting the moving company, it is also a good idea to reach out to your team of advisors during a move. For example, one of the pressing questions associated with a move is how much it will cost. Although the final calculation of cost will depend on factors such as the size of your home, the distance you are moving, and your willingness to take on DIY projects, your financial advisor can help you set a moving budget that aligns with your long-term financial goals.

Do estate planning laws vary state to state?

If you are moving to a new state, you should contact your estate planning attorney. Generally, a will or trust created in one state should be valid in your new home state. However, some documents, such as a financial or medical power of attorney, can be state-specific. Because estate planning laws vary by state, it is highly recommended that you have your estate planning documents reviewed to ensure their validity in your new state. Your attorney can review your documents or connect you with an attorney in your new state who can review them.

Are you moving to a community property state?

If you are married, your out-of-state move may have additional estate planning implications if you move to or from a community property state. There are nine community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In these states, there is a presumption that property acquired during the marriage is owned equally.

Florida Community Property Trust Act

On the other hand, property acquired by gift or inheritance or brought into the marriage by one spouse is separate property. Moving from a community property state to a common law state (or “separate property” state), like Florida, or from a common law state to a community property state raises questions about whether community property remains or becomes community property. For example, Florida now has the Florida Community Property Trust Act. The Act allows couples domiciled in Florida to elect to treat property, including Florida property, as “community property” by transferring it to a Community Property Trust. This may provide for a significant tax benefit. Your estate planning attorney can help answer your questions and advise you about the steps you should take to preserve certain tax benefits that may be available to you.

There is a lot to think about when moving, but locating and safekeeping your important documents and meeting with your adviser team are two essential items that should be added to that moving checklist. If you are moving soon, please reach out to us so that we can help ensure your move goes smoothly.

Those having questions and needing assistance with their estate plan may contact me at amanda.dorio@henlaw.com or by phone at 239-344-1362.

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