Often, establishing a trust is not the end of your estate planning concerns, especially if your wishes for your estate change after the fact. While it is not always possible to achieve exactly what you hope, depending on the nature of your existing trust and the terms you set in place when you established it, the law may provide ways that you can amend your trust and still enjoy many of its protections and benefits.
Commonly, these issues arise when a trust creator remarries, divorces or otherwise grows or decreases his or her group of desired beneficiaries. In order to avoid frustrating conflicts after you pass away, it is wise to address this issue directly as soon as you can. You certainly don’t want your estate to serve as an unnecessary source of conflict to those you love.
It is crucial to seek out professional, experienced legal counsel in these matters. If you do not, you may create even greater conflicts than those you hope to resolve with an amendment. The longer a trust endures legal challenges or other conflicts before it accomplishes your goals, the more likely that these conflicts may deplete the assets within the trust and compromise your wishes for your estate. An experienced attorney can help you assess your trust’s needs and restrictions and build strong strategies to achieve your goals while protecting your rights and priorities.
Can you decant your trust?
Trusts offer some impressive benefits, but also come at the cost of some significant limitations, especially when it comes to amending their terms. If you chose to create an irrevocable trust, then you may need some very careful guidance as you explore your options. In some cases, if an irrevocable trust grows problematic, an attorney may need to walk you through the process of transferring assets into another, more amenable irrevocable trust. This process is often called “decanting” assets.
You may recognize this term from its use in the wine community, where a person may decant wine by pouring it from one bottle to another, leaving undesirable sediment in the first bottle. In much the same way, you may find it is possible to decant your trust by “pouring” the assets into another trust, leaving behind the undesirable terms.
Seek out the guidance you need
In order to successfully amend or decant your trust, you must navigate numerous complex rules and laws. Be sure that you seek out professional legal counsel that understands these complex procedures before attempting to do so, for your own sake and the sake of your beneficiaries.
Poorly executed estate planning often creates many more problems than it solves, so it is always wise to understand your options fully before you make any significant changes. Professional legal counsel ensures that you can understand your options an execute them properly, protecting your rights and wishes.