A trust, like other estate planning instruments such as a will, advance health care directive, durable power of attorney, etc. (“other estate planning documents”), can be a very useful estate planning tool.
Trusts and other estate planning documents allow for diversity and flexibility in your life and can be used for many different purposes and specific needs. However, if you do not know what is in your trust and other estate planning documents or how your estate plan works, or if you do not keep your estate plan up-to-date, then what good is it? Meaning, if you do not know these things about your estate plan, then how do you know that it fits the purpose and meets your (or your family’s) needs?
One way to know what is in your trust and other estate planning documents is to review all documents often. Most legal resources, both in paper and online, recommend that people review their trust and other estate planning documents anywhere from every two to ten years, depending upon your life circumstances. Our firm recommends that our clients, at minimum, revisit and review their trust and other estate planning documents every two to five years OR when your life circumstance changes, e.g., divorce, receive inheritance, death of beneficiary or heir, your tax circumstances change, etc.
The reasons to review your trust and other estate planning documents are many and this article will cover just a few of the important reasons. But first, think of a trust and other estate planning documents as organic or living documents. Like the family dog, which needs food, water, love, and attention to prevent it from chewing up the couch, peeing on your carpet, or even dying, a trust and other estate planning documents need to be reviewed periodically (and possibly changed/amended) so that your estate plan does what you want it to do when it is needed.
One reason to review your trust and other estate planning documents is to ensure that all documents are compliant with the current law. Though your trust and other estate planning documents were probably compliant with California law when drafted, California law is constantly changing. Thus, a periodic review of your estate planning documents will ensure that your trust and other estate planning documents adhere to current law.
A second reason to review your trust and other estate planning documents is to make sure that all documents meet your wishes and goals. As we get older, we change and so do our wishes and goals. It is that simple. A periodic review of your trust and other estate planning documents will ensure that your estate plan matches your current wishes and goals.
A third reason to review your trust and other estate planning documents is to make sure that all documents match your current life changes, e.g., death of a spouse, death of a beneficiary or heir, disputes between family members, divorce, tax circumstances, inherited other property, etc. Let’s face it, life happens! A periodic review of your trust and other estate planning documents will ensure that your estate plan changes with your life changes.
Finally, a really important reason to review your trust and other estate planning documents is just so that you know what is in them and how your estate plan will work upon your incapacity or death. You spent time and money putting your estate plan together. Having your estate plan reviewed and thoroughly explained to you will help you be confident about your estate plan and prevent it from becoming worthless paper. That is, you will know how it works upon your (or a family members’) incapacity or death. You will know who will be in charge. You will know how your property will be distributed. Confidence about your estate plan will give you assurance as to your life and legacy. Ultimately, anyone who has not reviewed their trust or other estate planning documents or has an estate plan and has had life changes should contact the Chilina Law Firm or other attorney focusing on estate planning for a review of their estate plan.
Authored by Karen Chilina and Co-Authored by Greg Chilina
Chilina Law Firm, a Professional Corporation, is a full-service estate planning, probate, trust administration, business law, and real property law firm that provides a wide-range of advising, transactional, and litigation services to its clients from its office located in Atascadero, California. The firm’s attorneys represent individuals and business entities in an assortment of transactional and litigation matters involving estate planning (including trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives), probate, trust administration, as well as general business law, contracts, corporate governance, land use, and real property. Chilina Law can be contacted by telephone at (805) 538-5038 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org visit the Chilina Law Firm at www.chilinalaw.com. Chilina Law Firm is based in Atascadero, California and serves North San Luis Obispo County communities, including Santa Margarita, Atascadero, Templeton, Paso Robles, and San Miguel.
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