Trusts are an important part of every good estate plan. When your circumstances change, such as finances or any other aspects of your life, it often becomes necessary to revisit your trust and make changes to its terms. This may even be necessary more than once throughout your lifetime. If your trust is revocable, it can be amended or revoked whenever necessary. Indeed, the flexibility of a revocable living trust is one of its benefits. So, how can you modify a trust?
Trust Amendments and Restatements
There are essentially two ways to modify a revocable living trust. It can either be amended or restated. Either way you choose, it helps to be aware of the state laws that govern your trust. That way, you can ensure your amendment or restatement will be valid. Either method will deliver the same result, so the choice is yours. There are some circumstances when an amendment may be sufficient. For instance, when you get married or have a new baby or when your trust property increases substantially. If the beneficiaries change, either because someone has passed away or you change your mind about who you want to inherit certain property, then an amendment may be the best solution.
However, when the necessary revisions are more extensive or complicated, it is typically better to revoke the trust and start over. This way, you can ensure that the terms of your trust are accurate and adequately meet your needs. Revoking a trust is somewhat more complicated than simply amending, because the property included in the trust has been transferred and must be transferred again.
A restatement may be a better choice
Adding amendments to an existing trust, while simple and easy, can sometimes become confusing. On the other hand, by restating an existing trust, without revoking the trust entirely, you can simply include the necessary changes, while keeping the original date of the trust. Doing it this way, the property that is already held in the trust will not need to be transferred again.
The process of restating a trust is fairly easy. The new trust can state that it is a restatement of the original trust, while indicating that the original terms will remain the same, with the exception of a few specific terms that have been added.
Is a shared trust different?
Some people choose to create a shared trust with their spouse. In that case, either you or your spouse is able to revoke the trust. The only requirement is that, if you decided to change the terms of the trust, both you and your spouse must agree to those changes in writing. If one of you dies, the surviving spouse may then be free to amend the terms of the trust.
If you have questions regarding living trusts, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Sexton, Bailey Attorneys, PA online or by calling us at (479) 443-0062.