How to End a Testamentary Trust

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A testamentary trust is a unique legal device that is unlike any other trust. The vast majority of trusts are created during a person's life by a declaration of trust or similarly named document. A testamentary trust, on the other hand, is created by another estate planning tool, the will. The will must establish the trust, including naming the trustee and beneficiaries. Interestingly, a will may contain multiple testamentary trusts. In order to terminate a testamentary trust, the will must be amended prior to death.

Review your will for provisions that create testamentary trusts. The language that creates the trust may vary, but generally will include the appointment of a trustee, the designation of beneficiaries and the transfer of property into the trust. Determine which testamentary trusts you wish to end, if not all.

Draft a document in a word processing program entitled "Codicil of Maria Jones," with your name in the place of "Maria Jones." A codicil is a legal document that amends all or portions of a will. Within the codicil, recite the specific testamentary provisions that you wish to revoke from your will. For example, write "I revoke paragraph 4 of my will, executed on January 1, 1995, which reads as follows..." Make sure to quote each testamentary provision you wish to revoke.

Write within your codicil that all other provisions of your will remain in full force and effect. Make sure to refer to the date that your will was executed for proper identification. Date and sign the codicil. Many states require that you have two or three individuals also witness and sign the codicil. Consult an attorney to determine if this is necessary. Keep your codicil together with your will to ensure that when you die your wishes are carried out.

Tips & Warnings

  • You might be able to strike out the provisions of your will that refer to the testamentary trust. Striking out provisions within a will is only permitted in certain states. Consult an attorney regarding your options.
  • This article does not constitute legal advice. See an attorney for your specific situation.

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References

  • "Introduction to Estate Planning in a Nutshell"; Robert J. Lynn et al.; 2004
  • "Wills, Trusts and Estates Examples & Explanations"; Gerry W. Beyer; 2007
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