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Estate laws are complicated in California. But amending a trust does not have to be if you are represented by the estate planning, wills, and trust attorneys at OC Wills & Trusts in Orange County, CA.
Different Types of Trusts
Before we can help you amend your trust, we will need to know what type of trust you already have. If our law firm previously assisted you in creating the trust, this will be easy.
There are two common categories of trusts: living trusts and testamentary trusts.
The latter is the type that most people are more familiar with. These are trusts created as a result of a will. A testamentary trust can typically be modified at any point up until you die. This type of trust is relatively easy to modify because it hasn’t yet been activated.
Whether a living trust can be modified depends on whether it is a revocable trust or an irrevocable trust. The former is nearly as easy to modify as a testamentary trust because you can change or cancel it at any time.
Irrevocable trusts are the most challenging documents to amend. By definition, this type of trust is never intended to be modified or terminated. However, in some circumstances, you may be permitted to change or cancel an irrevocable trust. Typically, the beneficiaries must agree to any changes.
How to Modify a Trust
If you only want to make small changes, amending a trust can be simple. You only need to add a page to the trust that details the changes. You must sign the page indicating that you approve these changes and your amendment must be witnessed. Your attorney will ensure any changes are legal and properly documented.
However, if you intend to make more substantial alterations to your trust, a single page of amendments won’t suffice. Instead, you will either need to restate the trust or revoke the trust and create a new one.
Both of these options require nearly as much effort as creating a new trust. By restating a trust, you replace all the text of the original trust with new text. Usually, you keep enough original language that it isn’t worth revoking the original trust.
If you want to be certain that nothing in the original trust ever gets enacted, revoking it is the safest option. Revoking the trust effectively makes it like the original never existed. Once the original is revoked, you can create a new trust with different benefits and beneficiaries.
Regardless of how you modify a trust, you should inform all affected parties of any changes. Informing affected parties reduces their ability to contest the amendments you have made to the trust.
Why You Might Want to Amend a Trust
Typically, trusts are created to avoid probate. However, probate laws change as new legislators take office. What may have been a good financial decision a decade ago could be detrimental tomorrow.
An estate attorney at the law firm of OC Wills & Trusts will help you make the right financial decisions for your loved ones.
You might also want to amend a trust for reasons other than changes in probate law. Some of the common reasons that clients want to amend or terminate trusts are to:
- Account for significant family events like marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child
- Adjust the value of the benefits to specific beneficiaries
- Alter the powers granted to trustees
- Account for changes in wealth
- Change trustees
We can best help you amend your trust if we understand the reasons you want to make the changes.
Options as a Beneficiary
Typically, if you are the beneficiary of a trust, you have little to no power to amend it. If you are seeking to make changes, you should speak to the creator of the trust and request that they amend it in the way you want.
However, in some very rare circumstances, you may be able to challenge a trust in court. If you believe that the trust creator was illegally manipulated or the trust does not reflect the true desires of its creator, you may have a case. An estate planning attorney from OC Wills & Trusts can help you understand your options.
Finally, you usually have the option to refuse to be a beneficiary of a trust.
Contact Our Experienced Estate, Trust, and Will Lawyers in Orange County, CA
If you need to make changes to a trust in Orange County, CA, you cannot afford to make those changes on your own. Contact an experienced lawyer from OC Wills & Trusts to schedule a free evaluation and learn more about your options.