How to Dissolve Inheritance Trust

By David Carnes

An inheritance trust, usually called a testamentary trust, is a trust that is created by language contained in the last will and testament of the trust grantor. Since the trust does not go into effect until the grantor dies, it is considered an irrevocable trust under state probate law. Although the basic principles applicable to the termination of a testamentary trust are accepted by all states, procedures and details vary from state to state.

Step 1

Research the law of your state concerning the termination of an irrevocable trust. Many states have enacted most of the terms of the Uniform Trust Code. Under the Uniform Trust Code, an irrevocable trust, including a testamentary trust, may be modified if all beneficiaries consent and "continuance of the trust is not necessary to achieve any material purpose of the trust."

Step 2

Examine the trust deed to determine if its wording reveals any obvious purposes for the trust. Courts are reluctant to terminate a trust if doing so violates the clear intentions of the grantor, even if he is dead. A Massachusetts court, for example, refused the request of a sole beneficiary to terminate an irrevocable trust because he sought release of the funds prior to the date that the grantor had specified in the trust deed.

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Step 3

Obtain the consent of all trust beneficiaries to the termination of the trust. This might be impossible in some states if any of the beneficiaries are under 18, or if the trust has unborn beneficiaries: "Mary's children," for example, if Mary is childless. Courts in states that have enacted the Uniform Trust Code are empowered to terminate a testamentary trust without the consent of all beneficiaries if the court is satisfied that the interests of the unrepresented beneficiaries are adequately protected.

Step 4

Demand a written accounting of the disposition of trust assets from the trustee. The accounting must include an inventory of remaining trust assets and a list of expenses for administering the trust. A court may terminate a trust if it is uneconomical -- in other words, if the expenses of maintaining the trust are high compared to its remaining assets. Even if the trustee opposes the termination of the trust, he is legally obligated to distribute periodic accounting statements to beneficiaries.

Step 5

Prepare and file necessary paperwork with the probate court with jurisdiction over the deceased grantor's estate. Although this paperwork varies from state to state, it is likely that you will have to prepare a petition for termination of the trust, a consent to termination of the trust signed by all beneficiaries or their representatives, an accounting statement prepared by the trustee, and a proposed termination order for the judge to sign. The termination petition must state the legal grounds for termination of trust -- that the trust was established to provide university educations for the grantor's children and they have already received university degrees, for example. The court will set a date and time for the hearing and notify you. If it requires the presence of all beneficiaries, it will notify them as well.

Step 6

Collect evidence that supports your grounds for terminating the trust -- the university diplomas of all beneficiaries, for example.

Step 7

Attend the hearing scheduled by the court. Bring the trust deed along with the evidence supporting your grounds for terminating the trust. You may be required to testify. If your petition is approved, the court will issue an order terminating the trust and send you a certified copy.

Step 8

Deliver a certified copy of the court order to the trustee. This will authorize him to liquidate trust assets and distribute them to beneficiaries as specified in the order.

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Does an Irrevocable Trust Automatically Terminate Upon a Certain Date?


Related articles

How to Dissolve an Irrevocable Trust

An irrevocable trust is an agreement that manages assets of the trustor, or creator of the trust, for the benefit of the trust's named beneficiaries. Unlike a revocable trust, an irrevocable trust doesn't contain a clause that allows the trustor to dissolve the trust at will. However, a trustor might be able to terminate an irrevocable trust by following state laws regarding dissolution. While laws vary by area, some general requirements must be met in most states.

How to Terminate an Irrevocable Trust

With a trust, you transfer assets to a legal entity set up to shelter your estate from the probate process. A trust allows you to control who will inherit your property after your death and give instructions to a trustee on how to manage that property. Although an irrevocable trust, in theory, cannot be changed or cancelled, there are ways to close down the trust and, if you wish, transfer assets to a new one. If the trust no longer serves the purpose for which it was set up, you may revoke it or draw up amendments that substantially change its terms. In most cases, this process will be subject to review by the courts to ensure that the beneficiaries retain the rights they were granted in the original trust.

Rights of the Beneficiary of a Family Trust

A family trust is a trust in which the beneficiaries are family relations of the grantor. Since the assets of a revocable trust legally belong to the grantor, beneficiaries have no rights in trust assets that are not subordinate to the grantor's right to unilaterally revoke the trust. The assets of an irrevocable trust, by contrast, legally belong to the beneficiaries subject to the trustee's fiduciary authority. Trust beneficiaries enjoy certain rights under state law.

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