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When did you create your living trust? Do you need to just make minor changes to your trust, or is a full scale replacement of your documents in order? Here are some signs it might be more cost effective to simply replace your documents rather than make amendments.

When your trust was created:


A revocable living trust is like a good, dependable car. It gets you where you want to go, it needs some maintenance, but eventually you have to replace it with something new and up to date.

I recently had two couples contact me about making changes to their trusts. In both cases, changes had to be made to every document, there had been at least 10 major estate tax law changes, and their documents pre-dated my tenure as a lawyer… and I have been an attorney for 18 years now. The fact is updating much older documents that may have been extremely good at the time is now probably more expensive than simply replacing the documents with current ones.

Here are some reasons why:


In these cases, it is often easier, less costly, and more collaborative to start the planning fresh as if there were no living trust in place. In our office the way we work with new clients in an Estate Strategy Session can also be a good exercise for people who have a living trust to see exactly what is wanted and then these goals can be matched against the documents you have.

So what exactly is the “cut off date?” Certainly anything older than 2001 or 2002 is likely to have some extremely out of date tax provisions, and the documents we used prior to 2007 have many changes in the “recommended” change category, which means it really should be changed but may not be considered “critical” for your situation. So you may want to take a look at signing date of your trust and ask yourself what kind of cell phone did you have at the time? If you start laughing, it might be time to upgrade your trust.

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