How to Make Changes to a Living Trust

By Ronna L. DeLoe, Esq.

How to Make Changes to a Living Trust

By Ronna L. DeLoe, Esq.

A living trust is a document created during someone's lifetime that is often used to supplement a will. You, as the grantor, transfer title of your assets into the trust. You can choose to transfer both personal and real property.

Computer keyboard with the word "living trust" on a button

Many people create revocable trusts so they have the power to close or change it during their lives, which you can't do easily with an irrevocable one. They are usually made so that the property in the account passes to your beneficiaries outside the will. A trustee distributes the assets to your beneficiaries much faster than the process of distributing it through the will.

Changing a Living Trust

Making changes to a living trust depends on whether it is revocable or irrevocable. If it is revocable, you can change it by a few different methods, some of which are easier than the others. These include revoking, amending, and/or restating it.

Revoking a Revocable Living Trust

If you decide to cancel or revoke the trust, you'll have a lot of work to do. Close it and change all title back into your name as the original owner. You'll want to put your intent to revoke it in writing, while also inputting the date of revocation as well as signing the document.

After you've transferred everything back into your name, such as bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, or personal property, you can have these items pass to the beneficiaries in your will, or alternatively, you can create another trust.

Amending a Revocable Trust

If you decide to change or amend your trust, you can do this first finding your original documentation. You'll need the actual original and not a copy in order to amend it. You can then obtain an amendment form online or in a legal stationary store. You could also use a blank piece of paper if need be. Include all relevant information on the form, including your name, trustee name (even if you are acting in both capacities), the name of the trust, the original date it was executed, and the date of amendment.

You'll then need to include the most important part, which is what you are actually amending in the original document. Be specific so that it is clear as to what you are amending. After you have completed the form, you should have it notarized and possibly even witnessed if your state requires it. Once this is complete, be sure to make several copies and keep them on file. Never put the document in a safe deposit box, as the box is often frozen by the probate court upon your death. This means that no one can take anything out of it until the court says so.

You usually don't need to amend if you're simply adding more property to it. If you or your attorney drafted the document properly, the trust should have language that allows you to add property at any time.

Restating a Living Trust

If you have many changes to make, restating the trust is a better option than amending it. When you restate it, you leave the original intact, but you incorporate changes to the original one in a restatement document or on a blank piece of paper. Some states have forms for this, but most do not.

Restating it is a good idea when you've already had one amendment and you want to change the document again. Rather than have your trustee and beneficiaries confused about what you meant, it's better to restate it. You'll state that the original document—listing the name and date of the trust—is being kept intact but the following are your changes, and then list the changes. Also state that this restatement supersedes all other amendments.

Whether you revoke, amend, or restate your trust, the procedure is relatively easy if you follow the above instructions. Ensure that you follow your respective state laws in terms of whether the document needs to be notarized or witnessed by third parties.

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