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How Often Should You Update Your California Estate Planning Documents?

Making estate planning changes to your California Estate Plan when there has been a life changing event will contribute to reducing conflict when you are no more.  It will further make your intentions clear.

Estate planning should be reviewed after life changes, like the death or divorce of a child or the illness, addiction or incapacitation of any beneficiary, additional children, your divorce, if you want to change the order of your trustees, guardians, health agents, or the distribution of your assets.

The choices we make today in regards to the successor trustees or guardians we choose, may not be the choices 5 to 10 years down the road.  It is important to review your nominations to ensure the people you have chosen are still applicable and match with your thinking, your family dynamics etc.  “The trustee I chose 5 years ago, they have since moved, I no longer get along with them, they are going through a tough time in their life, my children do not get along with them,” these are just some reasons to consider amending your successor trustee list.

Sometimes, a child’s needs change.  We may have wanted all assets to go equally to our children, however, some circumstance in the future may require us to leave an unequal distribution to the children though our California living trust.  Maybe we provided more to one child during our life and not to the other(s).  Maybe one child is not following your family values and your wishes and you feel as though you want to leave them less.  Sometimes parents, because of their child’s disabilities have to amend their Estate Planning documents to add in a California Special Needs Trust.

If you believe you need to amend your documents, you should talk to your Estate Planning lawyer to see if changes are required.

Another very important update and checkup is to ensure you have funded your trust and that all of your probate triggering assets are part of your trust. Clients sometimes neglect to re-title their assets as instructed by their attorney. At the Singh Law Firm, we re-title your real estate holdings into the name of your trust with the respective counties the properties are in.  We provide detailed instruction on how to convert the existing bank accounts to trust as well. However, clients in the future may sell a house and purchase a new house.  Sometimes the client doesn’t buy the new property in the name of the trust, or they open new accounts in their names and not in the name of the trust.  These actions will trigger probate.

Moral:  If you have a California living trust, be sure to fund it with your assets by changing record title or beneficiary designations as instructed by your California trust attorney.


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