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New to California? Why you need to update your estate plan

| Jan 8, 2021 | Estate Planning |


Whether you’ve recently moved to California or you’re in the process of preparing to move, you’ve got a lot on your mind and probably a to-do list that seems endless. If you have an estate plan that was drawn up in another state, don’t forget that it will need some updates.

All states have similar estate plan components, including wills, trusts and powers of attorney for health care and finances. However, each state has unique estate planning and probate laws. Therefore, you’ll likely need to file some new documents. Let’s look at a few other things of which you should be aware.

Keeping your living trust current

If you have a living trust, you likely included your home in that since it’s probably your largest single asset. If you’re purchasing a new home here, don’t forget to title it in the name of your trust. The same is true for any new bank accounts you open or other assets you acquire that you want to include in your trust.

Community property laws

California, unlike the majority of states, operates under community property laws. That means most assets (with the exception of inheritances and gifts) acquired by either spouse during the marriage belong equally to both. Most people think that this only matters if you get divorced. However, marital property laws can also impact the assets a surviving spouse can claim.

California pet trusts

California has a number of unique provisions in its laws that impact estate plans. For example, it allows people to develop a pet trust to provide for the care of their four-legged companions after the owners’ deaths. A trustee of a pet trust must be appointed to carry out the instructions included in the trust.

There are other estate considerations when you relocate to another state, including taxes, end-of-life care and more. Even if you’re moving within the state, this is a good time to review and possibly update your estate plan. Also consider whether your trustees and executor are still within convenient distance to oversee your estate.

An experienced California estate planning attorney can help you update your estate plan so that it reflects California laws and your current estate. They can also help you ensure that your beneficiaries aren’t saddled with more taxes than necessary.

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