How to Terminate a Living Trust

By Michael Butler

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.

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.

Grantor

Step 1

Read the trust document to make sure that it is revocable if you want to revoke a trust that you granted. If the trust is silent on the issue, some states will presume it is irrevocable while others will presume it is revocable. Check the trust laws in your state if you are unsure.

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Step 2

Send a notarized letter to the trustee that states you are revoking the trust and the trust assets should revert back to you.

Step 3

Change ownership of any trust assets as necessary. For example, trusts might contain a payable on death bank account for the beneficiary. You will need to change the documentation with the bank. The trust technically terminates when the trustee receives your letter, but the assets need to be properly transferred.

Trustee

Step 1

Check the trust documents to determine when the trust should end. This is often not a specific date, but an event. For example, if the trust says, "In trust for Jill until she reaches the age of 18," the trust should terminate on Jill's 18th birthday.

Step 2

Transfer any money in the trust to the beneficiary on the termination date.

Step 3

Transfer any titles to property in the trust's name to the beneficiary on the termination date. The trust officially terminates when all the assets of the trust have been distributed to the beneficiary.

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How to Set Up a Blind Trust

References

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How to Terminate Blind Trusts

A blind trust is a special type of trust where the beneficiaries are unaware of the trust's assets and a designated trustee has full authority to manage the trust, including the purchase, sale and exchange of its assets. Politicians and corporate officers often set up blind trusts to avoid conflicts of interest and public scrutiny. In some states, it is legal for a lottery winner to set up a blind trust so that he can anonymously claim his winnings. A trust creator, called the settlor, can set up his blind trust as either a revocable or irrevocable trust. If the blind trust is set up as a revocable trust, the settlor can terminate the trust by following the revocation procedure set forth in either the trust agreement or state statutes. While revoking an irrevocable trust is not always impossible, the process is difficult as it usually requires court approval and consent of all the trust beneficiaries. Common reasons a settlor may want to terminate his blind trust include a change in financial circumstances, unhappiness with the trust’s beneficiaries or desire to shelter trust assets from tax authorities.

Is a Living Trust Liable or Subject to Probate?

A living trust holds assets that are managed by a trustee for intended beneficiaries. Also called a revocable trust, it differs from other trusts in that the trust creator, or grantor, can also serve as the trustee and can make changes to, or even revoke, the trust in its entirety during his lifetime. Living trusts are attractive because the grantor retains ultimate control over his assets while he is alive, but they are most commonly used to avoid probate.

How to Abolish a Family Trust & Get the Money

A family trust is a revocable or irrevocable trust designed to distribute assets among family members, typically from an older generation to a younger generation. Family trusts are popular, in large part because a properly structured trust can prevent estate taxes from being assessed on the estate of the trust grantor when he dies. The ease with which a trust can be revoked depends largely on whether the trust is revocable or irrevocable.

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