If you already have a living trust in place, you probably understand that the primary benefits of a living trust are to provide resources to your beneficiaries (which can include yourself) in a way that serves your intended purposes (e.g. medical or educational needs) while protecting your privacy and avoiding the probate process. But there may be a number of reasons why you want to amend some aspect of your living trust. For example, a new family member may come into your life that you want to include as a beneficiary, or they may be a current beneficiary for whom continued financial support no longer makes sense. You may also want to add property to the trust or revise the conditions by which funds can be distributed. In all cases you will need to take legal action to amend your revocable living trust.
Determining Whether Your Trust is Revocable or Irrevocable
Your trust documents should indicate whether the terms of the trust are revocable or irrevocable, and, if it less than clear, an estate planning professional can review your documents and provide guidance. Under California law, a revocable trust can be modified at any time or revoked in full. If the trust is irrevocable, modification or revocation may still be possible if all of the beneficiaries consent to the change and a court approves as well.
Methods for Amending or Revoking a Living Trust
California’s probate code lays out several methods that the settlor (the person who created the trust) of a living trust can take to validly effectuate an amendment or revocation. First off, the contents of the trust itself may provide a method for making changes, and a court will uphold any changes made in accord with those terms. Furthermore, a settlor may create a new legal document (other than a will) expressing his or her wishes regarding changes to the trust which is then transmitted to the trustee named in the trust.
A settlor may also authorize another person to have power of attorney over the trust which gives that person the right to make changes to the trust in accord with California law (although if an attorney is provided power of attorney, the trust document itself must reflect this). Finally, where there are multiple settlors contributing property to a trust, each settlor has the right to modify the trust with regard to his or her own contributions.
there are multiple settlors contributing property to a trust, each settlor has the right to modify the trust with regard to his or her own contributions.
Work with a Pasadena Estate Planning Attorney to Amend Your Trust
Amending a revocable living trust can be a straightforward process in many cases, although it can be important to work with an estate planning professional who can guide you through the financial implications and legal consequences of any attempted amendments. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney to amend your trust, you can ensure that you are taking the proper steps to make disposition of your assets as beneficial as to your possible to your loves ones.
Estate planning and probate attorney Christopher B. Johnson,located in Pasadena, California, has years of experience in all aspects of estate planning, and works with clients from all walks of life to create and amend revocable living trusts that reflect their needs and those of their beneficiaries. To request an immediate consultation, contact him today at (877) 755-9178.