When to Amend your trust- Some of the most frequently asked questions my Santa Cruz estate planning clients ask me are, “will I need to make a change in the future?” and “how much will that change cost?” These are fantastic questions because it tells me that they are aware of the fact that when their life changes, their plan may need to change as well.
In this blog we are going to discuss when and why amending your trust is needed to account for changes during the course of your life.
When we talk about estate planning, we are not talking about a fixed moment in time that will last forever. Instead, we are looking at who you and your family are today, projecting as much as we can for who you and your family will be in the future, and how your estate plan needs to be drafted to protect you to the greatest extent possible. However, we cannot predict all of the ways that your life may change, or what protections may become necessary. While we can provide the highest levels of protection available to us today, when your life changes, there is a chance that your estate plan will need to also.
I often use the comparison of when you buy your first home to your first estate plan. If you are a single individual with no children, a one bedroom may be more than enough to fit your current needs. But then you get married, you have a spouse who works from home, and you have your first child. Now you need a room for yourself and your spouse, a room for your child, and maybe even an office. The amazing home that you first bought may no longer fit your current needs, and you may need to look to extend your current home or even buy a new home.
This is the same way to view your estate plan. When you first set up your estate plan, you may have only needed an Advanced Health Care Directive, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a Will. But as you acquire more assets, when you have children, after you get married, after you receive an inheritance, etc., you will likely need to amend your current documents, and even add new ones.
Many of our clients will first come to us when they are only worried about setting up documents for themselves, or for themselves and their spouse. So at that moment in their lives, we are looking at how to protect them when they are alive and well, when they are alive but incapacitated, and what happens when they pass away. These same clients will come to us some years down the road, and now they have gotten married, had a child, purchased a property or two, and now they need an amended estate plan to protect who they are now, their assets, and their current family. Because their life changed, their estate plan will need to as well.
The number of changes a person’s estate plan will often come down to 3 things: how often their life changes, did the law change, and if the client wants to make an optional change.
Even clients with the best of intentions will have a plan that fails them if they do not amend the estate plan. If you have an estate plan that has not been reviewed in the last 3-5 years then now is the time to come see us for a review to ensure that your plan will still protect you. If you do not have an estate plan yet, do not delay coming to speak with us. You may be leaving yourself unprotected and we are here to help. Please contact our experienced estate planning attorneys today by calling (800) 244-8814.