Posted by Robert L. Arone
The month of May means not only the end of the school year and the beginning of summer but also the beginning of the busiest moving season of the year. That’s why May is National Moving Month. Your clients have a lot to think about when moving: along with organizing and packing up all of their belongings, there is also starting and stopping utilities, mail forwarding, updating voter registration, and so on. While the ever-growing number of items on their moving to-do list may be overwhelming, there are three important things you can do to help any client in the process of moving: (1) make sure they know where their important documents are, (2) help them set a moving budget, and (3) continue as their advisor, or connect them to a new advisor.Make Sure They Know Where Their Important Documents Are In all of the chaos of moving boxes and packing tape, it is easy for things to get lost in the shuffle or even thrown out during a move. Yet certain 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 the client’s dishes and shoes. You can help your client keep their important documents safe and accessible during their move and ensure that these items do not get thrown out by accident. One idea you can suggest to your clients is that they purchase a portable file box with an attached lid and a secure latch. Purchasing a brightly colored one can make it more easily identifiable. Then, they should place this file box in a secure and easily accessible location. If they are moving locally, a logical place might be at a family member’s or friend’s home. If they are moving a longer distance, then that place might be the trunk of their car. It is also wise for them to make electronic backup copies of all of their important documents. This could take the form of taking pictures of their documents and saving them to their smartphone, a password-protected removable flash or external hard drive, or storing them in the cloud. Then they will at least have a copy of these important documents in case they cannot locate the original. You can let your client know if you, as their advisor, have also made and stored copies of any of these important documents. By helping your client with this simple step in the moving process, you will save them a lot of time and headache when, for example, they are not having to run around searching through unpacked boxes for their children’s birth certificates so that they can register them for their new school. Help Them Set a Moving Budget 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 the client’s home, the distance the client is moving, and the client’s willingness to take on DIY projects, encourage clients to reach out to you or their financial advisor to help them set a moving budget that aligns with their long-term financial goals. Continue as Their Advisor or Connect Them to a New One Finally, you should discuss with your client whether you will be able to continue being their advisor after their move. In situations where it is not possible to continue being their advisor, such as when a client is moving to a state where their current estate planning attorney is not licensed to practice, then the advisor can help make the client’s transition easier by connecting them with a competent attorney in their new home town. For example, a will or trust created in one state should generally be valid in the client’s 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 they have their estate planning documents reviewed to ensure their validity in the client’s new state. Their estate planning attorney can review their documents or you can connect them with an attorney in their new state who can review them. If the client is married, their out-of-state move may have additional estate planning implications if they are moving to or from a community property state. Currently, there are nine community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Moving from a community property state to a noncommunity property state (i.e., a common law state) or from a common law state to a community property state raises questions about whether community property remains or becomes community property. For example, if a couple acquires a home in California during their marriage and then moves to Nebraska and purchases a new home in Nebraska with the proceeds from the sale of their home in California, is the new Nebraska home community property? The client’s estate planning attorney can help answer these questions. There is a lot to think about when moving, but it will ease the client’s burden if (1) they know where their important documents are, (2) they have a moving budget, and (3) they know they will continue to receive great advice from their advisor team after their move. If you need any assistance with a client who is moving, give us a call.