Can I Amend My Living Trust?
Estate planning can seem like a daunting endeavor. Many people mistakenly believe that it is something they can do once and then be done forever. In reality, a person’s estate is rarely static. Rather, they acquire and part with assets regularly and experience major life changes such as getting married or divorced, having children, starting businesses, and suffering the loss of loved ones, all of which affect their estate. Estates are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that estate plans would need to change over time to reflect the evolving needs of the estate and its benefactor. Luckily, that is one of the biggest benefits of living trusts. Living trusts are highly flexible and can be easily changed and even revoked at any time.
How to Amend a Living Trust
While a living trust may be amended at any time, there are certain requirements that must be met in order to ensure that the amendment is valid. A common mistake people make is simply crossing out a provision of their living trust, writing in the change, and then initializing it. It is important to understand that under Florida law this is not an effective means of amending a trust. In fact, it may invalidate an entire portion of the trust. In order to effectively amend a living trust in Florida, the grantor and two witnesses must execute the trust document and any amendments. Any written revisions made to the document will not meet this requirement, and will not be controlling in governing the estate.
Making an Amendment
The easiest way to alter a living trust is to work with an experienced estate attorney, who can ensure that all requirements are met. Generally, if only a small number of changes need to be made, the most pragmatic solution will be to amend the original trust document. In this case, an attorney will prepare separate documents for each amendment that needs to be made (each amendment relates only to the specific part of the original document that you want to change). These amendments will then be executed along with the original trust document. In other words, the original document will not be altered or revoked, rather, the amendments will be added on to it. If there are too many amendments to the point where the original trust document is unclear or confusing, it may make sense to restate the trust to ensure that the trust document is easy to understand. Restating the trust will not require retitling the assets it contains. If you wish to revoke the trust, this can be done at any time by anyone who is named as a grantor of the trust. It is important to note that while with a will, revoking it is a relatively simple process, revoking a living trust has significant implications for all of the assets that have been transferred into its ownership, and should be carefully considered.
Talk to a Florida Estates Attorney
If you are ready to develop an estate plan or need to make changes to an existing one, call the experienced estate attorneys at the SG Firm and schedule a consultation today.