When it comes to estate planning, a revocable trust is a popular option for many people. It allows the grantor to maintain control over their assets while they are alive, and it can be modified to reflect any changes in their life. However, once the grantor dies, the trust becomes irrevocable and no one can make any changes to it. In this article, we'll discuss what happens when a revocable trust becomes irrevocable and how it can be modified while the grantor is still alive. When the grantor passes away, the successor trustee takes over the management of the trust.
The successor trustee has a legal obligation to follow the instructions of the grantor to administer the trust. This means that no one can change a revocable trust once it becomes irrevocable. However, if you're considering adding a revocable trust to your estate plan, you can modify it throughout your life. Your lawyer can help you modify your trust by completing an additional legal document that reflects the changes or by modifying and reforming the trust in its entirety. This means that you will keep the name of the original trust but have a completely new legal document (unlike the original trust document, plus a separate amendment to the trust).
People often change their trust (also known as a trust modification) when they experience a significant change in their life or when they want to change who would be in charge of their trust if something happened to them, or change the beneficiary of the trust or the way the assets would pass into the hands of that beneficiary. Section 15402 of the California Probate Code governs the modification of revocable trusts and states that, unless the trust agreement provides otherwise, the grantor may modify its revocable trust through the revocation procedure. This means that if you want to create a revocable active trust or modify your current one, you can do so by presenting clear and convincing evidence of your intention to do so. The trustee or group of trustees of a revocable trust can also legally modify it to make it irrevocable. If you're considering making this kind of change, it's important to talk to an estate planning attorney first to learn about and mitigate any potential tax consequences. When modifying revocable trusts, professionals should carefully review applicable state law, as well as the applicable trust agreement, to ensure that any amendments are enforceable and comply with methods set forth in applicable state law and in the trust agreement. Additionally, if any changes are made to your trust involving assets or beneficiaries, make sure that all titles and designations are updated accordingly. In conclusion, while no one can change a revocable trust once it becomes irrevocable after the grantor's death, it is possible to modify it while they are still alive.
If you're thinking about creating or modifying your revocable living trust, consulting an experienced estate planning attorney is essential for understanding all of your options and ensuring that any changes are legally enforceable. At Phelps LaClair, our experienced attorneys have extensive knowledge in estate planning and can help you create or modify your revocable living trust. We understand how important it is for you to protect your assets and ensure that they are passed on according to your wishes. Contact us today for more information.