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Updating wills can be vital for correct distribution of estate

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2017 | Wills

Many people tend to neglect the little details of life, until all of a sudden, life springs upon them and they are caught unaware. Updating wills, trusts and other estate planning documents can sometimes fall in the procrastination category. But there are reasons for California residents to pay attention to updates on their estate planning documents. 

Marital and other life changes are the primary reason for a person to update their documents. In California, if a person remarries, and dies without changing the will to include their new spouse, the state will consider the new spouse to be entitled to a certain portion of the estate anyway, and will assume the change was overlooked by the deceased. Likewise, if a will gives certain gifts to a spouse, and the two later divorce, the state considers that spouse to have forfeited the rights to the gifts bequeathed in the will. This is why it is vital to update any estate documents with explicit wishes after a divorce or remarriage in this state.

Other concerns pop up such as changes to the number of children, or changes to trustees, executors and guardians, which will warrant an updating session. Trusts formed before updated inheritance tax laws may need to be reviewed also. Not every situation requires an update, but as a general rule of thumb, the paperwork should be reviewed every five years or immediately after a big life change. 

In California, it can be a simple task to update wills, trusts and powers of attorney. Sometimes, a simple form filing is all that it takes. Many people choose to manage their estate plans with the guidance of a legal professional. An estate planning attorney can be a knowledgeable guide for those who wish to plan in advance. 

Source:, “Is it time to update estate planning documents?,” Dennis Fordham, Aug. 23, 2017


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