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A Guide to Trust Amendment

Are you looking to amend, update, or restate your trust? Use this guide to help navigate you through all parts of the trust amendment process.

Patrick Hicks

Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

Life changes fast, and it can be hard to keep up with at times. Luckily, when it comes to Estate Planning updates are easy to make -- especially if you have a Revocable Living Trust as the basis of your Estate Plan. If you are going through a divorce, welcoming a new member of the family, or getting married it’s likely time to make some changes. 

A Trust amendment form is designed to give you flexibility and make changes to your Trust when necessary, though this is just one of three main ways to update your Estate Plan. The following guide will walk you through the process of changing your Trust. And, when you’re ready our team at Trust & Will will be here to help answer any questions you have:

What is a Trust Amendment?

A Trust amendment is a legal document changing one or more aspects of a revocable living Trust -- without revoking the entire structure. The goal of a living trust amendment is to help you make changes to beneficiaries, trustees, provisions, or modify any conditions to the Trust. 

What is a Trust Restatement?

Trust restatement is the process of rewriting the structure of a Trust to make significant changes to its provisions. The process of restatement completely replaces the previous structure of the Trust, and must follow the same formalities of the original process. 

A Trust restatement is typically used when someone needs to add a new spouse as a beneficiary, remove a beneficiary completely, or significantly change distributions. A restatement differs from a Trust amendment, as amendments are better suited for minor adjustments. 

In some cases, a Trust restatement is recommended to consolidate several amendments made over time. This can help simplify things for a successor trustee, rather than having them follow several amending documents. Similarly, a Trust restatement can also be used to better comply with changes in state laws. 

What is a Trust Update?

A Trust update is the practice of making changes to your Trust, like adding a Trust amendment form for example. Trust updates are used to reflect any changes in your family structure, finances, or even preferred distributions. 

Trust updates can refer to a Trust amendment or a restatement. There is also a third way to update a Trust, and that is to completely revoke the Trust and create a new one. This is often time consuming and can be costly to complete. It is typically recommended that you either amend or restate a Trust to reflect any change you want made.

It is widely recommended to update your Trust every three to five years to keep the documents up to date. Doing so will allow you to ensure everyone and everything you need is included in your Estate Plan. There are a few other circumstances that might require an update to your Trust, which we will discuss below. 

When Do I Need a Trust Amendment Form?

There are several situations where you might need a Trust amendment form to update your Estate Plan. It is safe to say more big life events will require a few changes to be made, but there are other situations as well. Here are some of the circumstances that might prompt an amendment to a revocable Trust:

  • You want to change one of the provisions of a Trust after a marriage, divorce, and/or birth of a child 

  • You want to add or change beneficiaries

  • You want to add or remove property from the Trust, or adjust the beneficiary of property

  • You want to change the nomination of a Trustee or successor Trustee

  • You want to update Trustee powers 

  • You want to change any conditions associated with the distribution of Trust assets (For example, you want a child to receive funds after graduation or marriage)

What Does a Trust Amendment Form Do?

A Trust amendment form is used to make official updates to a Trust in compliance with state laws. Forms should include specific, clear information about the provisions being added. Steps should also be taken to notarize any amendment forms to help avoid difficulties in court later on. 

Sample Trust Amendment Form

There are several Trust amendment forms available online that are easy to use. Finding a form online can help you avoid working with an attorney, though you will still need to have the paper notarized to make it official. 

Do not try to write on or update your Trust documents without a Trust amendment form, as these changes could be challenged during probate. The purpose of a proper form is to make sure your wishes are followed and cannot be overturned or ignored in the future. 

While estate planning is typically not the first thing that comes to mind when celebrating a new life event, it is still important to think about. Updating your Trust is one the best ways to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of in your Estate Plan. You can do this by amending, reinstating, or completely revoking your Trust if necessary. Often, a trust amendment form is the simplest way to make changes -- though it is important to understand all of your options. Get started today!

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