One of the greatest advantages of adding one or more trusts to your estate plan is you can amend any of them, except the irrevocable ones. Inter Vivos (Latin for “while alive”) trusts, or living trusts, can be revoked at any time before your death. These trusts only become irrevocable once you die.
Parties To A Trust
All of your trusts, revocable or irrevocable, must designate the following three parties:
- Grantor: the person making the trust, i.e., you or perhaps you and your spouse
- Beneficiary: the person or persons for whose benefit you establish the trust
- Trustee: the person or entity that manages the assets you place in the trust and distributes them to the beneficiary or beneficiaries according to the trust’s provisions
You can designate yourself as one of the beneficiaries. You can also name yourself as the trustee and therefore maintain control over the trust’s assets just as though you continued to own them personally. If you do so, however, you should also designate a successor trustee to take over the trust’s management should you die or become incapacitated.
When To Review Your Estate Plan
Given that your circumstances change over time, experts recommend that you review your estate plan, including your revocable trusts every 2-3 years. You also should do a thorough review any time you experience a life-changing event, such as one of the following:
- Your marriage, divorce or remarriage
- Your change of name, either via marriage or a court proceeding
- Your addition of a new child to your family through birth or adoption
- Your relocation to a different state
- The death of a trust beneficiary
- The death or incapacity of your trustee or successor trustee
Any of the above likely will necessitate an amendment to any trust it impacts.
Amendment Versus Restatement
If you want to make only one or two changes to your trust, you can do this via an amendment, which is a separate legal document that mentions the trust and lists the changes you are making to its provisions. You then need to keep both the trust document and the amendment document together in a safe place so that your successor trustee will have both of them immediately available to them in the event they must assume the duties of trusteeship.
If you wish to make several changes to your trust, creating a trust restatement may better serve your needs. This is also a separate legal document, but more lengthy than an amendment. After stating that you are not revoking the original trust, you then proceed to specify the more numerous changes you’re making to it.
Things To Keep In Mind
Whether you choose to amend or restate your revocable trust, you would do well to remember the following:
- Use specific language. Title the document as an amendment or a restatement, as appropriate.
- Use clear and unambiguous language. Your successor trustee needs to understand exactly what you want them to do and how you want it done.
- Sign in front of a notary. While not all states require amendments and restatements to be notarized, having yours notarized is the safest way to go.
AmeriEstate’s Trust Amendment Services
If you created your trusts through AmeriEstate Legal Services, Inc., you will glad to know that we include free simple trust amendments as part of your membership.