Who do I notify when changing my will? —Answers from We Help You Legal

Monday, January 8th, 2024

living trust Paso Robles

-Estate planning documents like a will or a trust are important to keep it up to date, including keeping the beneficiaries current, but it’s not required that beneficiaries be notified while you are living. We Help You Legal, the Paso Robles living trust document assistance service has some tips about who to notify and when.

Life is dynamic, and circumstances change over time. Marriage, the birth of children, acquiring or selling assets, or the passing of loved ones are events that may mean it’s time to review and update estate planning documents like the will or trust. Keeping a will current makes sure that assets are distributed as intended after death.

Whether the will is being changed to add beneficiaries, remove beneficiaries, or redistribute assets, there is no requirement to tell beneficiaries they are mentioned in the will or trust, or what they are to inherit as long as the testator is still living.

  • The person named as executor needs to know about changes to the will and the living trust.
  • Upon death of the testator, the executor is required to notify beneficiaries.
  • It is possible that the executor is also a beneficiary, which adds to the importance of choosing a highly trusted person to serve as executor.
  • Most people choose to tell family and friends when they are mentioned in the will or trust. Some choose not to because of family friction or some other reason.
  • Consider notifying individuals who are named as guardians of minor children or incapacitated adults about any changes to the will or trust so they can plan accordingly.

Whether to notify beneficiaries that they are mentioned in the will is a personal choice, but how a will or trust is created or modified has specific requirements. For example:

  • In California, wills or trusts can be modified at any time during the life of the testator.
  • A will or trust can be modified by amending it with a codicil.
  • A will or trust can be modified by revoking it and creating a new one.
  • Crossing out words or adding handwritten corrections don’t change the will or trust.
  • In California, a will must be witnessed by at least two individuals who are not beneficiaries.
  • While notarization is not mandatory, it can simplify the probate process.

Any changes to a will or trust require at least a review of the estate plan and living trust. The Paso Robles legal document assistance service has years of experience assisting individuals with creating and modifying their wills and trusts.

Choosing to notify beneficiaries of changes

Timing can be important when choosing to notify beneficiaries that the will or trust has changed and how those changes might affect them.

  • Making sure everyone is notified as close to the same time as possible can smooth friction and help prevent hurt feelings.
  • Communicating the reasons for any changes, such as a new baby in the family, the death of a beneficiary, a marriage, or a divorce.
  • Be prepared for possible emotional responses. Being prepared with answers to anticipated questions or reactions can help clear up misunderstandings and soothe hurt feelings.

Planning for the future can be a complex endeavor, and one critical aspect of this planning is creating or modifying a will or trust. In California, an individual can establish a living trust and create or modify a will. However, it is critical to make sure all of the documents are completed correctly and filed in a timely fashion.

Those who decide to make changes to their wills or living trusts often find themselves trying to balance working on the legal documents with jobs, their children’s school and activities, and life in general. The pressure can be distracting and stressful.

Relying on a legal document assistance service for creating and changing a will or a living trust can lighten the pressure and reduce stress. The legal document assistants at We Help You Legal have been assisting individuals with the documentation for wills and living trusts from their Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo offices since 2001.

A Legal Document Assistant (LDA) is an experienced professional who is authorized under California law to assist the public in preparing legal documents for consumers. An LDA is not an attorney, and cannot provide legal advice, or represent individuals in court. LDAs have a similar educational background as a paralegal and are required by law to be registered and bonded in the county in which they have their principal place of business. (Business & Professions Code, Section 6400, et. seq).

We Help You Legal is a “self-help” legal document assistance company that provides document preparation without the high cost of an attorney. We Help You Legal, Inc. is not a law firm. We cannot represent you in court, advise you about your legal rights or the law, or select forms for you.

We Help You Legal, Inc.
720 10th St,
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 237-7770

About the Author