Question:  Do you need to update your will when you move to a new state?


Answer: Yes, you should update your will when you move. Wills are governed by state law and should be updated to reflect the law in the new state of residence.

Wills are a very state specific document.  In Arizona, wills are governed by Title 14, Chapter 2 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.  A few examples of some Arizona specific requirements include:

  1. How a will must be executed and how many people must witness a will – A.R.S. 14-2502
  2. Who can witness a will – A.R.S. 14-2505
  3. How a will can be “self proved” which will allow the probate court to accept the will without witness testimony – A.R.S. 14-2504
  4. How a separate itemized list or personal property memorandum can be validly attached to the will – A.R.S. 14-2513

That said, an out of state will isn’t necessarily invalid.  A.R.S. 14-2506 provides that if a will was valid when and where it was executed, or when and where the will maker passed, it will be considered valid in Arizona. However, issues can still arise including:

  1. Possibly requiring witness testimony to prove the will’s due execution (will does not meet the requirements of A.R.S. 14-2504) and
  2. An itemized list/personal property memorandum not being included with the will or honored (will or memorandum does not meet the requirements of A.R.S. 14-2513)

Further, each state has different rules when it comes to interpreting wills, state allowances and exemptions, definitions of key terms and the duties and powers of the executor (personal representative in Arizona). Arizona’s rules could be very different than the rules of the prior state, so something that worked one way in the prior state might work another way in Arizona.  The best way to be sure that the will works the way you want is to update your will when you move.

Another reason to update your will when you move is that the will may be outdated. When we update wills for clients who have relocated to Arizona, we often find that the will needed to be updated anyway: the kids are grown, the executors are no longer appropriate, the guardians are now out of state, the assets have changed. Updating your will when you move is a great opportunity to address these types of changes as well.

A will is a critical document.  It specifies who should care for minor children if the will maker/parent passes, who should administer the estate of the will maker and who should inherit the assets of the will maker.  These are major decisions that should not be left to an out of state, possibly outdated will.  As such, we absolutely recommend updating your will when you move.

Learn more about Arizona wills.

Neal Law Firm has worked with numerous clients who have relocated to Arizona.  Call us today at 480-699-7992 to discuss how we can be of assistance.