If you have a sizable estate, transferring your assets into a trust can protect your financial interests. There are a number of different types of trusts to choose from, including family trusts that are designed to benefit your spouse, children or other dependents. A family trust is a type of living trust that takes effect during your lifetime. Should it become necessary, you can amend or revoke a family trust at any time.
Amending a Trust
If you only wish to make a few simple changes to your family trust, you can do so by amending the trust document. An amendment may be appropriate if you want to add or remove property held in the trust, change your beneficiaries or name a new trustee to manage your assets. To amend a family trust, you simply need to draft a written document outlining the changes you want to make and attach it to the original trust deed. If you're transferring new assets into the trust, you'll have to take the extra step of retitling the property in the trust's name.
Restating a Trust
If you're planning to make multiple changes to the trust at once, it may be easier to simply restate the trust rather than amend it. Restating a trust allows you to make major changes without having to revoke the trust entirely. Essentially, you're rewriting the trust document, but all the assets that you originally transferred remain in the trust. The trust keeps the same name and the same date of origination, no matter how much you modify the original trust document. A restatement is more work than a simple amendment, but it's less hassle than revoking a trust.
Revoking a Trust
If extensive changes are necessary because of a major life event, such as a divorce or the death of a beneficiary, it may be necessary to revoke the trust entirely. Revoking a family trust involves dissolving the trust and transferring any assets owned by the trust back to yourself. Generally, you can revoke a family trust by drafting a written document stating your wish to do so unless the trust deed specifies another method. You must sign and date this document for it to be valid.
In certain situations, it may be necessary to draft a will that includes a pour-over provision, which transfers assets to the trust when you die. If you have a pour-over provision in your will, you'll need to add a codicil to reflect any amendments you make to the trust. If you decide to set up a new trust after revocation, you should include a provision in the trust deed specifying that it supersedes the original trust. You can only amend, restate or revoke a living trust during your lifetime. Once you die, the trust becomes irrevocable, which means its terms become permanent.
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