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Can I Amend A Living Trust?

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Estate planning can seem like a very formal and overwhelming process. With so much paperwork and so many signatures it’s easy to feel like everything is set in stone. However, the reality is that living trusts and even wills can be amended. In fact, it’s highly likely that a need to amend your trust or last will and testament will arise at some point during your life. Circumstances are rarely static, and any change in assets or beneficiaries (including divorcing or marrying a spouse or having children) can all require amending your trust or will accordingly. In that sense, a living trust is analogous to a living organism, which grows, evolves, and adapts, along with your changing circumstances. If it has been a while since you prepared your living trust document or will, it’s a good idea to check the terms and ensure that it is still up to date or if any changes are required. It’s also a good idea to normalize checking in with your Trusts and Estates Lawyer each year or whenever a significant life change or change in assets occurs to make sure that your estate is up to date. The only time when you can truly ensure that you will be able to make these changes is now. While many people take it for granted that they will be able to sort out their estate and affairs later, the future isn’t guaranteed. Rather than postponing reckoning with your estate (and your own mortality) it can be far more productive and effective to integrate it as a normal part of your life.

How Can I Amend a Trust?

One of the many benefits of a living trust (in addition to bypassing probate) is that it is highly flexible. The creator of the trust can change, revoke, or end a living trust at any time. In general, the easiest way to make a change to a living trust is to contact your attorney. If you jointly own the trust with a spouse or another individual, you will likely both need to agree in writing to any changes that you want made. Likewise, the permission of all owners will likely be required to authorize a transfer of property out of the trust. However, if you wish to end the trust, either joint-owner may end it at any time without the others’ permission. If one spouse or joint-owner passes away, the surviving joint-owner may make changes to their own assets in the trust, but may not amend the terms affecting any of the deceased owners’ assets. In general, the best way to amend a living trust is to restate it. This involves creating a new living trust document without revoking the last one. Instead, you simply restate the living trust with whatever changes or amendments you want incorporated.

When Should I Amend a Trust?

There are many situations in which it may make sense to amend, alter, or revoke your living trust. In general, significant life decisions, like getting married, divorced, having children, buying a home, acquiring large assets, or the death of your spouse or a beneficiary, can all warrant amending your living will. Talking to a lawyer can help you understand what changes may be necessary and what is required to make them.

Talk to a Florida Estates Lawyer

If you need changes made to a living trust or are ready to get your affairs in order, contact a West Palm Beach estate planning lawyer at the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray. We are eager to assist you today.

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