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Avoid Painstaking Probate Part II: Why Amend My Trust?

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

“I don’t need to worry about probate anymore. I have a trust! I got my trust ten years ago, so I’m covered.” Well, maybe you’re right, but a lot can change since the time you created your trust. One of the most common scenarios of when you should amend a trust occurs when you have purchased or inherited new real estate. Other times to update a trust occur when you have acquired new business interests, stocks, or financial accounts that are not necessarily beneficiary-based. If you fail to update your trust in a timely manner, you risk any new assets ending up in probate, which can be very costly as I noted in my last article. While beneficiaries may be able to classify property as a trust asset with a Heggstad petition, amending a trust ahead of time is a much less expensive option.

What is a Heggstad Petition?

A Heggstad petition is a filing that would need to be made with a probate court to prove that an asset from your estate was intended to become a trust asset even though it was never formally listed or transferred in the name of your trust. This process, like any probate procedure, can be a long and expensive petition process. Also, if you lack any tangible evidence that shows intent to transfer the asset to the trust (emails, letters, etc.), a Heggstad petition may not even help. Solution: Regularly Updating Your Trust By Amendment Proper planning prevents probate! Every three to five years, or whenever you receive new real estate, business interests, etc. you should consider amending your trust to reflect the change or addition of assets. Having an estate plan in place is a great way to create as little hassle on your beneficiaries as possible, but to make sure this is so, you must also regularly update and amend your estate plan to reflect changes to your property. Another Common Scenario: Refinancing Property Have you refinanced your property since forming a trust? People often title property from the name of the trust to themselves personally to qualify for a “refi,” or refinance of a mortgage.

If you have been in this situation, the property must be titled back into the name of the trust. What Legal Value Firm Offers At Legal Value Firm, we offer services to amend wills, trusts, advance health care directives, and powers of attorney that are customized to each client’s needs and desires. We also offer deed transfer services to transfer title to any newly acquired real property into an already-existent trust. Please check out for more details and call to schedule an appointment today! Thank you for reading. We caution our readers that every legal matter has unique qualities which require consultation with an attorney to evaluate how this purely informational post may apply in your specific situation. Always consider the effects that changing ownership of property may have on your estate plan, including gifting, encumbrances, and tax consequences. Please contact Legal Value Firm today.

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