Eight Factors in Deciding Whether to Update Your Living Trust

Like many couples, you may have created an Orange County living trust when you prepared your estate plan. When one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse may need to modify the estate plan that was originally created. If the spouse was named in any of the healthcare or financial documents that are part of the plan, new documents will need to be executed. The will should be updated to name new primary beneficiaries and successor executors. Just like with each of these estate documents, a living trust may also be in need of a modification.

To determine whether your living trust should be updated after the loss of your spouse, consult with an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the process with patience and compassion. Your attorney will meet with you to discuss all of the facts and circumstances surrounding your estate plan, including the following:

  1. Is the Orange County living trust a joint trust?
  2. Does the trust continue to be for your benefit, even after your spouse has passed?
  3. Does your attorney or tax advisor recommend that you disclaim any trust assets for tax savings purposes?
  4. Does the trust split into sub-trusts after the passing of your spouse?
  5. Is your spouse’s estate subject to any estate taxes?
  6. Is there a successor trustee named for after your spouse passes?
  7. If there is not a successor trustee named, are you directed to appoint one?
  8. Have your circumstances changed substantially since the original trust was prepared? 

In some cases, your living trust will need to be updated after the loss of your spouse. In other cases, very little may need to be done. For more information about modifying an estate plan in California, view our free guide, The Ten Things You Must Know Before Creating (or Amending) Your Will or Trust. When you’re ready to make changes, contact our office of experienced trust amendment attorneys at (714) 459-5481 for a consultation.

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm