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.

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.

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.”

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How to Create a Trust in California Last Wills

References

Related articles

How to Add an Entity to an Existing LLC

Limited liability companies can have as many members as they wish, or they can have one member. Corporations can be members of LLCs as well. LLCs formally set forth the rights and responsibilities of the founding members in their operating agreement before they open their doors, but this unique business structure allows the business to add or remove members at any time. Knowing how to add an entity to an existing LLC can help to make your membership transitions flow smoothly.

How to Terminate a Living Trust

Any trust that you establish during your lifetime is a "living trust." Living trusts can be revocable, which means that the person creating the trust, known as the "grantor," can terminate it during her lifetime. However, living trusts can also be irrevocable, which means the grantor cannot terminate the trust. In this case, the trustee can terminate the trust, but only in the manner specified in the trust – for example, after all the assets have been distributed.

Amending an Irrevocable Trust

There are many reasons for amending a trust. Circumstances may have changed and the distribution to beneficiaries is no longer appropriate, or even ill-advised. You may even find the trust contains errors that you didn’t spot when the documents were originally created. Although an irrevocable trust, by legal definition, cannot be amended, there are circumstances that do allow changes as well as legal methods that can change how the trust -- or a new one -- earns and distributes its income. Although many rules apply generally, state law governs the creation and amendment of trusts. It's best to consult an experienced estate-law attorney or financial adviser to ensure the changes to your trust comply with your state laws.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Amending a Living Trust in California

A revocable living trust establishes a plan for trust assets that provides payment to the trust's beneficiaries. A ...

How to Change a Living Trust After the First Spouse's Death

If you and your spouse created a revocable living trust, you can change all or part of the trust after your spouse's ...

How to Add a Page to My Last Will & Testament

As you age, your priorities or circumstances often change and you decide to revise some provisions of your will. One ...

How Do I Add Another Owner to My LLC?

The passage of time can bring about waves of change in the operations of any business. Shifts in market conditions, ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED