Amending a Living Trust in California

By Christine Funk, J.D.

Amending a Living Trust in California

By Christine Funk, J.D.

In California and all other states, you can create a living trust while you are still alive, allowing you to continue to exercise complete control over your assets during your lifetime. A trust simply allows for the efficient transfer of assets upon a person's death, without the hassle of having to go through probate. Sometimes, however, after writing, funding, and executing a living trust, the author of the trust, who remains the trustee while they are alive, has a change of heart about who should inherit which assets (if any). If this occurs, they must either amend their living trust or write a new living trust to replace the current living trust.

 

If you have decided to rewrite every portion of your living trust, replacing all successor trustees and beneficiaries, it is probably a good idea to create a new living trust. However, if you only plan to amend small portions of the living trust, there is no need for a completely new document. Instead, you simply have to follow the steps below to amend your living trust in California.

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1. Review the rules of the trust.

Some trusts contain a list of rules providing terms and conditions for amending the living trust. If these rules are present in your living trust, you must follow them to the letter in order for the changes you desire to take effect.

2. Prepare the amendment by titling the document.

On an otherwise clean sheet of paper, put the title at the top of the page. The title should read: "Amendment to [name of your trust], dated [date of the signing of the original trust] Revocable Living Trust."

3. Identify the portions of the trust by original and amendment text.

First, identify the portion of the trust you would like to amend by the number and title of the provision. For example, you may state you wish to amend Section III, Subsection A, which identifies the person you wish to inherit your summer cottage. After identifying the section you wish to amend, copy the original form of the text in its entirety. Immediately below the original text, insert the text rewritten to reflect your wishes as amended. Repeat this process for each section of the living trust you would like to amend.

4. Notarize your amendment.

You must bring the document to a notary public and have the document notarized. In order to do this, you need a valid form of identification, and you must sign the document in front of the notary before the notary notarizes your signature.

5. Secure the amendment along with the original trust.

Attach the notarized amendment or amendments to the back of your original trust document. This assures that, when the time comes, the trust accurately reflects your wishes.

If you want to create or amend an existing revocable living trust, it is a good idea to consult an attorney or an online service provider to make certain you have protected your assets and arranged for a smooth, legal transfer through a valid document.

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