I got a trust through Suze Orman. Is it valid in N.J.?

Photo: pixabay.com

Q. I have a revocable living trust that has been in place since 2005. It was created in California through Suze Orman. I live in New Jersey and I always have. If I need to amend it to disinherit a child, can I? Is it valid in New Jersey?
— Concerned

A. Estate planning documents are very specific to your situation and to the state in which you live.

While television and radio personalities may seem to have your best interests at heart, they have no way to know or understand your personal needs.

Suze Orman sells do-it-yourself estate planning kits online. These include revocable living trusts, wills, financial powers of attorneys and powers of attorneys for health care.

“She claims that everyone needs a revocable living trust, but that is not true for all New Jersey residents, where wills may be sufficient because probate in New Jersey is relatively inexpensive and the courts generally do not supervise estate administrations unless there is a challenge,” said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

Suze Orman’s trusts are California trusts.

California is a community property state where joint trusts with spouses are common, Whitenack said. But New Jersey is not a community property state and joint trusts are much less common here.

“Generally, attorneys in the state where the trustmaker resides should draft or at a minimum, review the documents to make sure they’re appropriate for the trustmaker and comply with state law,” she said. “In this case, where the reader wants to disinherit a child, the reader should understand that doing so may result in a challenge to the will and therefore, the reader should consult with a New Jersey attorney to take steps to protect the trust from a challenge as much as possible.”

Representatives for Suze Orman didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Email your questions to .

This story was originally published on Aug. 4, 2022.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.