One of the most frequent questions I get from former clients is “I’m moving to [insert location of choice]; should I update my trust?” I typically dodge the classic “It depends” answer and tell them that they don’t necessarily have to update, but there are circumstances where they might want to.

If the client is moving within California, they probably don’t need to update their trust; at most they would update the Schedule of Assets at the back (sometimes called a Schedule A). It’s more important that the house is titled in the name of the trust (i.e. the Grant Deed says “John Doe and Jane Doe, trustees of the Doe Family Trust dated [date]”). If there is a dispute over whether an asset belongs in the trust or not, the courts give a lot of weight to how title is held. So if you’re only going to do one thing, put the house in the trust.

The exception to this rule is if the client wants specific instructions for the property in the trust – for example, they want the house to go to a specific child. In that situation, the client would want to amend the trust to either update the address or add the instruction, if it wasn’t there before.

(On a side note, don’t actually gift something like a house to one child, unless the other children are getting a gift of roughly equal value or they’re all in agreement on it. Otherwise you’re setting your estate up for a lot of bitterness and fighting, if not outright litigation.)

If the client is moving out of state, things are a bit different. In that situation, they should have an attorney in the new state review their trust to see if they should update it. They may want to take advantage of the laws in their new state, or they may decide that they like California’s laws better and keep the trust as it is. The trust will still be valid, even if they don’t update; the down side is that if anyone in the new state has to deal with it, they’ll have to learn California’s laws first (or hire a California attorney).

If that didn’t answer your question (or if it did and you have more questions) you are welcome to email me at


Kelley Way was born and raised in Walnut Creek, California. She graduated from UC Davis with a B.A. in English, followed by a Juris Doctorate. Kelley is a member of the California Bar, and an aspiring writer of young adult fantasy novels.