Today, in part 2 of our blog series on estate planning “New Year’s Resolutions”, we are discussing the importance of keeping your estate plan updated, specifically your trust.
First, as a reminder of why living trust are so valuable (versus just a will): by creating a living trust, your assets will be eligible to bypass and skip the court probate process. What is probate? It’s actually an acronym that stands for “Painful Robbery of Bank Accounts, Time & Energy”. OK, so maybe we made that up, but the description is certainly accurate! A living trust allows for streamlined management of your assets that avoids all of the excessive fees, time-consuming (8-16 month average) and public nature of the probate process.
As far as updating an existing trust, there are an endless number of reasons why you may want or need to make amendments. For example, you may have changed your mind about something such as beneficiaries or division of assets since you last looked at your estate plan; you may have inherited or purchased a significant number of assets since your estate plan was made; you may have neglected to put some property into your living trust; you may no longer be comfortable with who you chose as the successor trustee that would take over in the event of your incapacity or death; you may have had a grandchild (or two or three) since you last changed your trust; you may not be aware of certain federal, state or even local changes in tax laws, like Prop 19, that may warrant a revisit of your plan. These can all be valid reasons for revisiting your will or trust.
If you have had even one of the above changes happen in your life, it may not be a bad idea to reach out to your trusted estate planning attorney to ensure that your current intentions are memorialized and that your wishes are correctly carried out. Make it one of your New Year’s Resolutions!