When Does an Irrevocable Trust Expire?

by Mallory Malesky, studioD Google

Trusts are established to hold personal property such as real estate or money in order to be passed along upon the creator's death. Trusts can have several advantages over simply giving directions in your will, such as tax breaks for your beneficiaries. An irrevocable trust is one that cannot be altered once it is established. In most cases, irrevocable trusts do not expire throughout the the grantor's lifetime.


Irrevocable trusts act to hold assets on behalf of their original owner, who is the grantor or settlor of the trust. For example, you can establish a trust and then sign a deed granting ownership of your property to the trust. There are two main types of trusts, revocable and irrevocable. The terms of a revocable trust can be changed as needed. You can deed the house into the trust, and then take it back out at a later date. Irrevocable trusts, however, are practically ironclad. They cannot be altered in any way. Once an asset is moved into the trust, it stays there. The stipulations for when a beneficiary should receive a certain asset remain the same as well.


Irrevocable trusts involve three parties -- the grantor, the trustee and the beneficiaries. The grantor establishes the trust and determines what assets are granted to the beneficiaries. The trustee is an individual or institution that has been entrusted with acting as the manager of the trust. It is the trustee's duty to ensure that the directions of the trust are executed accordingly. Finally, the beneficiaries are those who will eventually benefit from the trust in some way. For example, you might include your children or grandchildren as beneficiaries.

Distribution of Trust Assets

Upon your death, the trustee will distribute the assets to the named beneficiaries. Once the distribution is complete, the trust will no longer exist. In some situations the transfers happen immediately; however, under other circumstances the trustee remains in control of the trust for a number of years. An example of this would be if a minor were named a beneficiary, and the trust explained that he is not to receive the benefit, such as a lump sum of money, until he reaches a certain age. This situation would therefore extend the life of the trust.


By definition, an irrevocable trust cannot be modified once it's created. However, state laws determine if and when a trust can be changed or revoked. Commonly, there's a stipulation that in order to modify the trust all of the beneficiaries must agree to the new terms. While it might sound simple, amending an irrevocable trust is a complicated legal matter which requires the assistance of a professional.

About the Author

Mallory Malesky has been writing business, finance and general knowledge articles since 2008. In her daily life, she works in corporate product management. Malesky holds a Bachelor of Science in natural science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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