How to Amend a Living Trust Without a Lawyer

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There are two types of living trusts: revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts. Revocable trusts are relatively easy to amend. Irrevocable trusts cannot be revoked without either a court order or the consent of the grantor, the trustee and all the beneficiaries. You may wish to amend a trust agreement to add assets to the trust, to remove assets from it, to add a beneficiary after the birth of a child, to delete a beneficiary after a divorce or to appoint a new trustee.

Things You'll Need

  • Trust agreement
  • List of trust property
  • Title deeds to new trust property
  • Check the trust agreement for any rules on how to amend the trust. If the trust is irrevocable, you must follow these rules. If it is revocable, you can avoid the rules by simply revoking the trust and creating a new trust.

  • Create an amendment to the trust stating exactly the changes you wish to make to the trust. Sign it, and have the trustee sign it. It is okay for the amendment to be a separate document from the original trust agreement.

  • Arrange for all beneficiaries to sign the trust amendment, if the trust is irrevocable. Although their signatures are not required to be notarized, notarization might save you trouble if a legal dispute erupts later.

  • Transfer any new property to the trust. Change the title of new property represented by a title deed, such as an automobile or a house, to the name of the trust. Place cash in a bank account set up in the name of the trust. You can place personal property in the trust by simply turning it over to the custody of the trustee (by giving him the key to a safety deposit box, for example).

Tips & Warnings

  • Create a codicil to your will that takes account of the assets placed in the living trust, to avoid legal disputes after you die and prevent trust assets from going through probate.
  • Understand that if you comingle your assets with trust assets, by keeping trust funds and your own funds in the same bank account, for example, a court may view the trust as a sham. In this case, trust assets might have to go through probate after you die.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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