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Execute legal documents where you reside

Q. My legal residence is in Florida. I have no estate planning documents in place and need to get organized. I am planning to visit family in New York for a family wedding next month. My adult daughter who lives in New York wants me to meet with her estate planning attorney in New York to execute a Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, and Trust while I am there. It sounds like a good idea to me, but I wonder if there is a good reason to prefer a Florida attorney over a New York attorney for these documents.

A. It is not an issue over which attorney is better – but rather, which law governs. State laws, especially estate laws, are quite different. Generally, the law which governs is the law of the state where you reside, e.g. maintain a principal place of residence and live there most of the year, where you vote, your address for tax purposes, etc. If you reside in Florida, I strongly recommend that you meet with an experienced estate planning attorney in Florida who will educate you on the laws there and help you craft an estate plan there which will serve you well. An estate planning attorney in New York may practice law only in the jurisdictions (states) where he or she is admitted to the Bar of that state. An attorney not admitted to the Florida Bar will not be able to provide you with the best information for your particular circumstances and will likely not be familiar with the particular rules concerning Florida estates. It is best for you to meet with a Florida attorney either before or after the wedding; sooner is always better than later.

W. Zehava Schechter, Esq. specializes in estate planning, administration and litigation; real estate law; and contracts and business law. Her law practice is located on Long Island. Please send your comments to Her podcast, the LI Law Podcast, may be downloaded on itunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. The podcast website is:

No column is a substitute for competent legal advice. Please consult with the attorney of your choice concerning specific legal questions you may have.

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