If you have ever asked yourself the question, “How often should I update my living trust and will”, you are not alone and it is an important question that often people unfortunately don’t address. Estate planning in California is a important task that every individual should give proper consideration.

How to Update Living Trusts

A living trust, commonly referred to as a revocable trust, is a written legal document in which your assets are placed into a trust for your life-long benefit. Common assets placed into a trust include your home, bank accounts, and stocks. A revocable trust allows you to name yourself as the trustee throughout your lifetime in order to remain in control of your assets. Upon your death, the trust becomes irrevocable and is transferred to a designated beneficiary.

A trustor may revise a revocable trust when his/her circumstances change. Revocable trusts are usually revised to add or change an intended beneficiary, or to address domestic matters. The trust can be revoked or amended at any time by the person who created it as long as he/she is mentally competent. Having an updated trust will reduce the chances of your property passing through probate.

You should update your living trust if any of the following events occur:

1. Newlywed or Divorced
2. Change in residency status
3. Change in financial status
4. Trustee or beneficiary expires
5. New tax laws impact trust assets

In addition, you should also update your trust’s schedule of assets every 5 years. This will allow you to include newly acquired assets and remove assets that have been disposed of. Contact A People’s Choice to find out how we can help you update your living trust.

How to Update a Last Will & Testament

A last will and testament is a written legal document in which a person specifies which individuals (beneficiaries) are to receive his/her property and possessions upon expiring. The last will and testament is prepared while a person is still living and carried out by the executor of the estate. The probate court supervises the executor of the estate in order to ensure all property and possessions are lawfully distributed.

A last will and testament should be updated when the following events occur:

1. Tax law change that impact estate assets
2. Inheriting assets from family members or friends
3. Selling or buying a business
4. Retiring
5. Buying or selling real estate
6. Financial setbacks
7. Getting married or divorced
8. Birth of first child or grandchild
9. Welcoming new in-laws into the family
10. Death or incapacity of a spouse, child, or grandchild
11. Unforeseen medical expenses
12. Moving to a new state

Any of the life changing events mentioned above can have a direct impact on your last will and testament. If assets are left outside of your living trust, it will have to go through the probate process after your death. In particular, changes in tax laws may also require you to revise your will.

Contact A People’s Choice to Update Will and Trust

You should never go prolonged periods of time without reviewing your estate plan. The first step of most estate planning is to make a will, however, often it is necessary to change a will that was previously executed due to life changing events. You should review your estate plan every few years to ensure no revisions need to be made. If you are thinking about making a revision, or creating a living trust or will and last testament, contact A People’s Choice for help. Our estate planning service can help you secure your loved one’s financial future upon your death.

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