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Does a name change due to marriage require update to living trust or will?

Santa Clara, CA |

My parents have a living trust or will (not sure which one). They are concerned that when I change my last name (due to marriage), the trust or will will not be valid anymore. I don't believe that is true. I believe they are using it as an excuse so that i do not take my husband's last name. Any thoughts?

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Best answer

    Not necessarily. As long as you are clearly identified in the estate planning documents. A reference to "Judy Smith, my daughter born July 9, 1975" should be fine if "Judy Smith" becomes "Judy Jones." If the reference is not so clear, your parents can add a Codicil to their Wills or Amend their Trusts to change your name. However, estate planning attorneys generally make a clear reference with the first name, the relationship, and the birth date (the latter is not necessarily required), so that the documents do not need to be changed every time a beneficiary changes his or her name.

    Please note that the goal of this response is to share general legal principles. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship between our firm and anyone reading this response; and the response should not be relied upon as legal advice. For legal guidance, an attorney practicing in the legal area and in your jurisdiction should be consulted. Cheryl Johnson is licensed to practice in the state of Maryland and this response should not be relied upon as an interpretation of laws of any state.

  2. The will and trust remain valid even if you change your name. So long as those named in your parents' documents are easily identified and not confused with someone else, there's usually no need to keep your maiden name.

  3. It does not make the will or trust invalid in any way.

  4. You taking on a married name should not cause any problems in regard to your inheritance or continue your position as a beneficiary of the Trust.

    John N. Kitta

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  5. I agree with others. Documents are usually written in such a way to indicate the beneficiary's relationship with the grantor/testator. One option for you would be to keep your maiden name as your middle name when you marry (if you so desire). So, for example, "Mary Lynne Smith" now becomes "Mary Smith Jones." Maybe that will make everyone happy.

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