Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

My 86 year old Aunt would like to make a couple of minor changes with a codicil to her living trust. She wants to do it holographically to avoid the $500 per hour charges from the attorney. Is there specific rules she needs to follow in California? Or should she find a new attorney to make the changes?

Asked on 7/09/13, 3:10 pm

5 Answers from Attorneys

William Christian Rodi Pollock

I would reccomend that she do this properly. She can hire a new attorney, but any capable new attorney will want to review the existing trust to determine what it provides and appropriately inplement any changes. Thus a new attorney may or may not save any money. An error in implementing amendments or changes may be far more costly to correct after her death or incapacity than you imagine. It is far less expensive to do it correctly while she is able to do so.

That warning being stated, most trusts can be amended by a writing on the basis set forth in the existing trust. Read the trust, and decide what risk she is willin gto take. Are you feeling lucky?

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Answered on 7/09/13, 3:17 pm
Chris Johnson Christopher B. Johnson, Attorney at Law

I'd agree with Mr. Christian--there are a lot of ways it could go wrong, and now that I've been doing this 18 years, I'm much more willing to say that making changes without an attorney is a bad idea.

I can understand not wanting to pay too much, but most attorneys should be able to quote a flat fee for making the amendment.

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Answered on 7/09/13, 3:30 pm
Scott Jordan Jordan Law Office

I agree with the above comments. Your aunt should discuss the changes to her trust with an attorney.

I would also agree that many attorneys will quote a flat fee to review and amend as desired.

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Answered on 7/09/13, 3:39 pm
Jennifer Rouse Meissner Joseph & Palley

In addition to the comments above, please aware that only a will is changed by a codicil. A trust is changed by an amendment.

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Answered on 7/09/13, 3:44 pm
Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

I agree with Ms. Rouse. You are mixing up two different estate planning documents, and I am surprised that the other attorneys did not notice. A codicil is used to make amendments to an existing will, it is not used to modify a trust. A trust and a will are two completely different instruments.

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Answered on 7/09/13, 4:11 pm

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