It’s Not Enough to Create a Living Trust: Update it With Key Life Events

It’s Not Enough to Create a Living Trust: Update it With Key Life Events

Kate Fogle, Attorney at Law

A Living Trust is set up during the lifetime of the property owner. The Living Trust, sometimes called a Revocable Trust, may be useful for avoiding Probate, reducing estate taxes or managing property over the long term. You establish a Trust by transferring legal title of your property to the Trust. You may retain control of the property throughout your lifetime by naming yourself as the Trustee or you may name someone else as the Trustee, assigning control of the property to that person.

Instructions for updating your Living Trust

  1. Review your Trust regularly. You should review the document at least every three to five years with a lawyer or other legal professional. Review the Trust more often if you experience life changes, which could include a new marriage or a death in the family, or frequent changes in your property holdings.
  2. Identify the Trust as the holder of property that you acquire at the time you get the property. You can name the Trust as the beneficiary of insurance policies, bank accounts, pension or retirement accounts and savings plans. You can also name the Trust as the titleholder of real property. By assigning assets to the Trust as you acquire them, you can keep it up to date without having to change the Trust document.
  3. Make changes to the Trust by amending it. Amend the Trust when you want to change the Trustee, add or change beneficiaries or change the way your assets are distributed. Also, amend the Trust if your name changes.
  4. Amend the Trust by attaching a written statement of the changes. When you are attaching a separate amendment to the Trust document, clearly state the changes you made by specifying what you added or deleted. Sign and date the attachment. If the amendment relates to real estate, have your signature notarized.
  5. Create a restatement of the Trust if you need to make multiple changes or made multiple changes over time. You make a restatement of the Trust by revising the original document to include all of your changes. The Trust restatement incorporates multiple changes in one document, which eliminates the confusion created by having to refer to several documents. Sign and date the restatement and have the signature notarized.

Stop in at one of our three California Document Preparers offices soon to update your Living Trust. We also include a Power of Attorney and Advance Healthcare Directive in our Living Trust package.