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Moving to the Coast?

Here’s your legal to-do list

More and more people are drawn to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for its many attractions, including the reasonably-priced real estate relative to other states and the beach atmosphere. If you recently made the Coast your home or are considering a relocation, here are some items to check off on your to-do list when you move:

1. If you have a last will and testament from your prior home state, make sure it is valid in Mississippi. There are at least two states that do not require witness signatures on a will. In general, however, most states, including Mississippi, require the signature of two witnesses to execute a valid will. Therefore, it is best to double check when you move to Mississippi to ensure your last will and testament is valid in this state. It also is wise to check to see if you have new or additional assets to include in your last will and testament.

2. If you still own real estate in another state, consult a professional regarding estate-planning options that would eliminate the need to have probate proceedings in two different states after your death. A little prior planning can help ease the transition of assets after your death.

3. Did you move from a state that recognizes common-law marriage? Mississippi does not recognize common-law marriage (and has not since 1956); however, about 16 other states still recognize common- law marriage in varying forms.

If your relationship was recognized as a common-law marriage in another state and you move to Mississippi, you should call the appropriate authorities and discuss the legal implications that may arise.

If you want to ensure that you are safely covered under all scenarios, please contact a professional to discuss the options available to you.

Written by Kathy Van Zutphen

Kathy Brown van Zutphen of Coastwide Law LLC is an attorney licensed to practice law in Alabama and Mississippi. She focuses on the “elder law” areas of trusts, estates and conservatorships. Additionally, she litigates lawsuits and represents small business owners as part of her legal practice. Visit to learn more or reach her at her office: (228) 357-5227.

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