Will My Advance Directives Be Valid In Other States?

What happens if you suddenly experience a casualty or severe illness that leaves you paralyzed and/or unable to communicate? How can you ensure that your wishes about your medical care are known to not just your loved ones, but to your medical personnel? Fortunately, estate planning tools called “advance directives” offer a solution. Advanced directives help lessen confusion and disagreements about one’s medical care. By planning beforehand, you’re able to get the medical care you want while alleviating the stress of family members who no longer need to make any major medical decisions during emergency situations.

Out of State Advance Directive

I Move Frequently, Will My Advance Directives Be Valid in Other States?

Typically, your health care documents, which include your living will, and health care power of attorney will be valid in other states. If you regularly spend time in more than one state, you should consider whether these documents made in your home state will be valid in the second state as well. For instance, if you have more than one residency in different states (if you live in Florida in the fall/winter time and New York in the spring/summer) it is suggested that you attain distinct information about both states’ policies on advance directives, perhaps by consulting with an estate planning attorney.  For the most part, it will be valid, because nearly all states except health care directives from other states so long as the documents are legally valid in the state where they were made.

When Your Health Care Documents May Not be accepted In Other States

Some states regulate the degree to which they will accept health care directives from other states. Moreover, some states only accept health care documents from other states if they obey their own laws. Other states don’t have specific restrictions or rules about whether or not they will accept advance directives from other states.

Should You Make Two Separate Health Care Documents for Each State?

Like with any other legal matter, there are benefits and drawbacks to drafting a new set of advance directives for more than one state. If you decide to draft two sets of directives and both are not absolutely identical to each other, signing one could potentially nullify the other if a contradiction is observed. However, if you are moving to another state, it is suggested that you complete a new living will for the state you move to. Even if your original living will is valid in the new state, you can avoid any potential problems simply by completing a new living will that uses terminology and phrases or even a unique structure that may be preferred by the new state. Keep in mind that the new advance directive will nullify the old one.

How To Ensure Your Health Care Wishes Are Honored?

Most often, it won’t make sense to make different advance directives for each state you reside in, so what should you do? First, start by doing some research in order to find out whether your primary state of residence’s health care documents fully covers you in whichever state you also commonly reside in. You may be able to get all the information you need by talking to a representative at a hospital from the other state(s) you regularly spend time in. Furthermore, be sure that your home state’s specifications for advance directives cover the requirements for the second state as well. If you are not convinced that your health care documents will be valid in both states where you reside, or spend time, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney for advice.

If you or a loved one are looking to draft new health care directives for your estate plan, we highly recommend seeking out a licensed estate planning attorney who can ensure peace of mind that your health will be in the hands of people that you trust whenever the time comes.