Because your revocable living trust may be in effect for many years or even several decades, you may need to change your living trust to remove or replace a beneficiary of the trust. It is also not unusual for people to have a change of heart about whom they want to leave an inheritance. So it is a common question for grantors of a living trust to want to know how to remove or replace a beneficiary.This can usually be done by executing an amendment to the living trust or a Trust Restatement Form. Only an estate planning lawyer can determine what type of document is necessary to remove or replace a beneficiary of your revocable living trust. If other unforeseen issues are discovered when your living trust is reviewed, it may be necessary to create an entirely new living trust.
If you are only making one simple change to the living trust, it can typically be done by making a short trust amendment. If you are making multiple or complex changes to the trust, a restatement of the entire living trust is generally preferred to avoid any confusion when the trust is interpreted or administered. A trust amendment and a restatement of living trust must be properly drafted and executed in accordance with applicable state law. See how to end a trust.
Cost to Amend a Living Trust
If you already have a valid revocable living trust, it may not cost very much to remove or change a beneficiary, even if it is determined you should do a restatement of living trust. The best course of action is to contact the attorney that prepared the original living trust document and briefly explain the changes you want to make. Many estate planning law firms offer a free review of living trust every two to three years for clients they have served in the past.
While removing or changing a living trust beneficiary may be too complicated for you to handle correctly on your own, it is typically a task your attorney can perform very efficiently. You may be surprised to find your attorney can perform the service at a very low cost while providing you the peace of mind that the changes to your living trust will be enforceable and your last wishes will be carried out.
Do Not Change Living Trust Without Attorney
There are many mistakes you can make when you amend or restate your revocable living trust to remove or replace a beneficiary. A single mistake can cause your trust to be deemed invalid or the changes you made to be unenforceable. To find state laws that apply to making a valid living trust in your state, go to
Trust Law.Unless you are an estate planning attorney, it is unlikely you will be aware of all the pitfalls involved in making even minor revisions to your living trust.
Refer to Original Trust Correctly
Failure to refer to the original living trust properly throughout the trust amendment or restatement of trust can cause problems in enforcing the revisions to your living trust. See
fatal errors in execution.
Use Correct Language to Amend a Trust
You may have a clear idea of the changes you want to make to your living trust. Nevertheless, that does not mean you will be able to write the necessary legalese or legal language to ensure your desired living trust changes are enforceable. See
codicils and amendments.
Use Correct Date to Amend a Trust
The date used on the trust amendment or restatement of trust can present a problem if not handled properly in relation to the date of your original trust.
Consent of Other Trust Settlor
If your spouse or partner is also a settlor or grantor of your revocable living trust, he or she must agree to any amendment or restatement of your joint revocable living trust and properly execute such amendment or restatement.
For more information, see trust administration and for trustees.
A New Living Trust May Be Required
Simple changes to a revocable living trust can usually be made via trust amendment or a restatement of living trust. However, in some circumstances an entirely new living trust document may be required. You will need the advice of a licensed estate planning attorney to know whether you need a new living trust document or whether a trust amendment or restatement will suffice. See
finding an attorney.
Free Living Trust Guide
Whether you have an existing living trust, are making a new living trust or are assuming the task of administering a living trust, you probably have lots of questions about living trusts and other types of estate planning trusts. Our free Living Trust Guide features information on how to make a living trust, how to amend a living trust, how to revoke a living trust, and how to end a living trust.It also includes information on how to manage a living trust, such as adding and removing property from a living trust. Pennyborn.com's Living Trust Guide includes information on trust administration issues such as providing a trust accounting to beneficiaries and filing tax returns for the trust. To browse the free guide, go to
Guide to Living Trusts.