What Is a Living Will?
A living will is a legal document that protects you by allowing you to dictate your wishes about your medical care should you become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions on your own.
REMEMBER: a living will pertains only to medical-related wishes. It serves to honor your desires and lift the burden from your loved ones. They don’t have to make heart-wrenching decisions that may not be what you wanted at all! People are often confused about this: Nothing in the living will relates to protecting or inheriting “tangible” assets. A regular will and a living trust will do that.
What Is a LIVING TRUST?
You will need a living trust to protect your assets, such as real property, intellectual property, or personal property.
Creating a living will, a will, and a living trust may be part of your overall Estate Planning but keep in mind that not all the documents serve the same purpose. These powerful legal documents should not be created once and forgotten. You should periodically update your trust and living will to meet life’s changes.
WHY and WHEN WOULD YOU UPDATE A WILL?
To completely understand why and when to update your will and trust, consult your favorite legal professional versed in these documents. Attorneys specializing in estate planning stay on top of the many changes in this area of the law. In the meantime, we have some suggestions.
This partial list of life events will get you started and help you when you approach your attorney so they can be prepared.
In California—due to the California Intestate Succession Law—the surviving spouse is entitled to 100% of the property acquired while together. If you are considering divorce, update your will, living will, and trust well before divorce procedures start. Timing is critical. Once the divorce is initiated, documentation gets messy.
- YOUR CHILDREN’S WEDDING
A great time to review the language in your trust and will is before the wedding. Has the attorney included terms like your children and their spouses and their children in your existing documents? When your kids are ten, your will may not have such language. However, as each of the kids marries off, you will want to be sure of the right person having access to the family estate. What happens if you have a heart attack at the reception?
What if your child’s bride or groom has kids from another marriage? Are they in line to receive anything? What if you don’t like your child’s choice? Do you want to make sure your child is protected somehow? Do it before the wedding! Also, pour over your will and trust on each fifth anniversary to ensure your wishes are the same as the day they married. Things change. Speaking of change…
- CHANGES IN YOUR FINANCIAL STATUS
As you progress through your life, you’re bound to achieve a higher financial standing. You might inherit money from your parents. Or your status will change when you sell your business. If you were wise enough to prepare a will early in life, you must protect your growing assets in a trust. Your trusts need to be updated as more property is acquired because you gain nothing if the will does not include all your assets. A good attorney will insist that your residences and business properties be bought and sold out of the trust.
- NEW TAX LAWS
Tax regulations and laws change, often when new parties come to power in the federal and state government. Your accountant and your attorney should be advising you on these new laws. Even COVID had some long-term effects on taxes and inheritance. Have your advisors kept you on top of these changes?
- THE DEATH OF YOUR EXECUTOR OR BENEFICIARY
This would seem like common sense, but it may catch you unprepared. You would usually choose someone you highly trust as your executor, and a beneficiary would be someone close and dear to you. In the event of their premature death, the grief of the moment may cloud your ability to act. But updating your will and trust is an urgent matter in this scenario. Let your attorney know ahead of time to remind you!
- Years Ending in Fives and Zeros
Maybe you’re lucky enough to avoid divorce. Sometimes grown kids don’t get married. Your financial status is pretty stable. The same party is in power in the White House. We don’t have a pandemic.
You are not off the hook! You must REVIEW YOUR WILL and TRUST at least every five years.
Your living will? Oh, that’s the one where you decide how you want your last days to be. THAT WILL CHANGE as you get closer to those LAST DAYS! Believe us.
Your wills and trusts? Your assets will change. You will move. You will upgrade or downgrade your company’s business location. Covid will have forced you to downsize your business and increase your home size to work from home. STUFF HAPPENS.
At The CREM Group, we have seen it all.
We are experts in Court Supervised Real Estate Sales, meaning we specialize in Probate and Trust Sales. Don’t forget: Your home will be sold under probate laws if it is not part of a living trust.
HERE’S THE THING: Getting caught with an outdated trust and will or with only part of your assets in them is almost as bad as having no estate documents at all.
Even so, you will be in good hands with The CREM Group because we help people sell their real estate during probate. It can be done. It does take longer, but we can help.
The CREM Group helps families with inherited assets to get the highest value for their real property while working seamlessly within the legalities of probate and trust sales. Contact us today to learn more.