How to Prepare an Amendment to a Revocable Trust

By Christine Funk, J.D.

How to Prepare an Amendment to a Revocable Trust

By Christine Funk, J.D.

A revocable living trust transfers ownership of your possessions and assets from your personal ownership to ownership in the trust. A trustee designated by you then manages those assets. In most cases, people designate themselves for this task. When they pass away, a successor trustee manages the assets, passing them on to the named beneficiaries, or heirs, according to the instructions in the trust document.

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The process of amending a revocable living trust document simply requires creating and filing an amendment. The key steps in this process are outlined below.

1. Review your trust document.

Before you amend your revocable living trust, take a few minutes to review the document as it is now. This gives you the opportunity to refresh your recollection of the contents of the trust and your current instructions. Identify the paragraphs that you want to change. Or, alternatively, identify the additional assets or property you have acquired since it was written and designate the beneficiaries for these new items.

2. Draft the amendment.

Take a blank piece of paper and insert the heading "Amendment." Use the paper to describe any changes you wish to make to the trust. It is a good idea to refer directly to the page and paragraph found in the original revocable living trust document. Rewrite that paragraph to accurately reflect your current wishes about how you want that property distributed.

Different states have different laws about adding amendments to the trust. As such, it is generally wise to make certain you are in compliance by consulting an estate planning attorney at this step.

3. Sign your amendment.

You must sign and date the amendment. Different states have different rules about the number of required witnesses, as well as whether or not the document must also be notarized. Because the rules vary by state, this is another matter you may want to discuss with your attorney.

4. Inform your successor trustee.

Make certain to take the time to let your successor trustee know that you have attached an amendment to the revocable living trust. If you have given them copies of your revocable living trust, make certain to replace them with the new, amended information. This helps ensure your wishes are carried out to the letter.

5. Store the amendment with the original document in a safe place.

It is essential to store the revocable living trust document and its new amendment in a safe place. However, it is also important that your loved ones can access them in the event you become incapacitated or pass away. Otherwise, your intentions will not be known. For example, it is not a good idea to store a revocable living trust document inside a bank safe deposit box with only your name on the account. Instead, consider a safe deposit box with more than one authorized user or store it elsewhere, such as a fireproof safe. However, again, it is essential that your successor trustee not only know where it is stored but also how to access it.

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