How to Amend a Revocable Trust

by John Stevens J.D.

One of the advantages of creating a revocable trust is your ability to amend it. Amendments are commonly made to add a beneficiary, such as a new grandchild, but can be used for virtually any trust purpose. Amending a trust typically requires a document --an amendment -- separate from the original trust document. Trusts are often executed with certain legal formalities. Writing on the trust document itself, even if you sign or initial the change, may not be effective and could cause confusion on the future. When in doubt, seek professional help.

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Step 1

Write the name of the trust and the date you executed the trust document. For example, “I, Jane Smith, executed the Jane Smith Revocable Trust on April 13, 2004.”

Step 2

Locate the portion of the trust document that provides that you have the power to amend the trust. Trusts are commonly divided in sections, as indicated by Roman numerals or letters. For example, if the power to amend the trust is found under Division III, paragraph (d), make a note of this location.

Step 3

Write the location of the power to amend in your amendment document. For example, “Under Division III, paragraph (d) of the Jane Smith Revocable Trust, I reserve the power to amend the trust.”

Step 4

Include language expressing your intention to amend the trust. For example, “I hereby amend the trust as follows:”

Step 5

Amend an entire paragraph by specifying the paragraph you intend to amend, followed by the new trust language. For example, “Division II, paragraph (f) is amended to read in its entirety as follows: I direct the trustee to distribute the proceeds from my savings account to my niece, Barbara Rogers.”

Step 6

Delete a paragraph from your trust by identifying the paragraph you intend to delete. For example, “Division II, paragraph (g) is deleted.”

Step 7

Add a paragraph by including the location of the addition, followed by the new language. For example, “Division II, paragraph (j) is added to read as follows:...”

Step 8

Include language to indicate that you intend the rest of the trust language to remain in effect. For example, “In all other respects, the trust remains unchanged.”

Step 9

Date and sign the bottom of the amendment in your capacity as the trustee before a notary public. You may only amend a trust if you are the trustee. Indicate that you are signing as trustee by including “trustee” after your signature.