IS A DOCUMENT EXECUTED IN ANOTHER STATE VALID IN CONNECTICUT?

With our mobile population, a common question which comes up is whether a document that was signed in one state, such as a power of attorney, appointment of health care representative or end-of-life instructions, is valid if you are in another state, either permanently or temporarily. Generally, documents executed according to the law in the state of execution are considered valid in another state.

As of October 1, 2017, Connecticut took the additional step of passing the Connecticut Uniform Recognition of Substitute Decision-Making Documents Act.  This law makes clear that if a document known as a substitute decision-making document which authorizes another to act in matters of property (e.g. power of attorney), health care or personal care (e.g. appointment of health care representative) was executed in compliance with the signing requirements of the state in which it was signed, then that document must be recognized under Connecticut law.  The law applied to any substitute decision-making document executed before, on or after October 1, 2017.

Included in this law is the requirement that a photocopy or electronically transmitted copy of an original substitute decision-making document has the same effect as the original.  The law goes on to explain under what circumstances a person may refuse to accept such a document.  The law also provides that if a person refuses to accept a substitute decision-making document that it is required to accept by law, then the person who refuses to accept it is liable for the attorney fees and costs of any legal action brought to mandate acceptance of the document(s).

Even though we now have the law on the books, logistically it may still be problematic in its execution. For example, if a Living Will (Advanced Directive) executed in Nebraska in accordance with its laws, is presented in Connecticut to allow a loved one to die a natural death, how long will it take the hospital attorneys to research the legal requirements of Nebraska Living Will law before the dying person’s wishes are carried out?  Even if this is an issue, this new law provides a step in the right direction.

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