Once you’ve created a will or other estate planning documents, it’s easy to think that simple changes can be marked in your own handwriting on these documents. If you want to avoid having to go back to your attorney and creating something entirely new, you might think that a quick edit is what’s in order.
Over the summer, an important decision came down from the California Supreme Court that could have implications for your loved ones if you make handwritten updates to your will. In this case, the primary question was whether or not the trustee and settlor of a revocable trust did indeed amend the trust when he made handwritten notes on the document. The handwritten note in question had to do with the addition of another beneficiary.
After making those handwritten adjustments, the document was sent to the settlor’s lawyer to have the updates formalized. The settlor of the trust passed away before the formal document was ready for him to sign with the incorporation of the handwritten change.
The successor trustee asked the court for instructions about what to do and then moved for a judgment that the handwritten updates did not qualify as a valid amendment to the trust. The court upheld that summary judgment since the trust documents had not been officially updated and prepared for the settlor’s signature prior to this death.
As this case illustrates, it’s important to make changes to your trust with the help of a Pasadena trust planning attorney.