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.


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.

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.

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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.


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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