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Trust Amendments – What are They?
A Trust Amendment is a legal document that changes specific provisions of a Revocable Living Trust but leaves all of the other provisions unchanged. A Revocable Living Trust is a legal contract between the Trust’s maker, called the Settlor or Grantor, and the Trustee, which may be changed at any time and requires the Trustee to oversee the management of property transferred into the trust by the Settlor / Grantor for the benefit of the Trust’s Beneficiary or Beneficiaries. The key to a Revocable Living Trust is the fact that it is revocable, which means that at any time while the Settlor / Grantor is alive and competent, then they can change, modify and update – as well as completely revoke – the provisions of the Trust agreement. Since this is the case, the name of the legal document that is required to change, modify, or update the trust agreement is called an Amendment.
As a general rule, if the changes that the Settlor / Grantor wants to make are minimal, such as adding or deleting specific bequests, changing who will serve as Successor Trustee, then an Amendment will cover these types of changes. If you are considering making a change to your Revocable Living Trust, please – do not mark up your trust agreement and stick it back in the drawer. This is because a Trust Amendment must be signed with the same formalities as the original Trust. Any hand written changes will, depending on applicable state law, either void the Trust or be ignored. Always consult with an Estate Planning Attorney to prepare your Trust Amendment so that it will be legally valid and binding on all of the Trust’s Beneficiaries.
Finally, the nice thing about doing an Amendment is that the original name and date of your Revocable Living Trust will remain the same. Thus, all of the hard work you put into funding your Revocable Living Trust under the original trust name and date will not need to be undone.