Do I Need a Trust Amendment or a Trust Restatement?

We recommend you review your estate planning documents, including your revocable trust at least once a year, especially if you have had a significant life change, such as:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Death of a beneficiary
  • Acquiring new property that you want to add to the trust
  • Moving to another state where the inheritance laws are different
  • Name changes
  • Changing or adding a beneficiary
  • Changing or adding a Trustee or Successor Trustee
  • Changing or adding property to the trust
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    This is not a complete list. There could be many other situations that will require changing your revocable trust. If you do need to change your revocable trust, the next step is determining whether you need a Trust Amendment or a Trust Restatement.

    Trust Amendment

    A Trust Amendment revises the terms and conditions of a trust. Trust Amendments are generally only used if certain provisions of a trust agreement have to be modified, but the rest of the provisions of the trust remain unchanged. Minor changes may include updating a beneficiary’s name, changes due to marriage or divorce, adding or removing simple gifts, or naming a different trustee.

    Trust Restatement

    A Trust Restatement, on the other hand, is usually recommended if the basic goals of forming the trust have changed, or if all or main provisions of the trust agreement need to be changed. Changes in the number of beneficiaries, changes in the way in which the funds or assets are to be distributed, or compliance with new laws are a few of the significant changes that may require a restatement.

    A Trust Restatement may also be recommended if the trust has already been amended several times and consolidating all changes in a clear manner will help provide clarity and avoid confusion. A Trust Restatement may also make sense if federal and state estate tax laws change, or new administration laws are enacted.

    Conclusion

    While an amendment makes sense for minor changes, a restatement may be vital if major changes are made. There is no specific rule regarding when you should use a restatement or how many times a trust can be amended before it needs to be restated. Handwritten changes may not be acceptable in some states or might be considered invalid. In Florida, handwritten changes to your trust document after it has been executed are not valid.

    If you need to make changes to your revocable trust or are unsure whether a significant life change requires making a change to your trust, schedule a call with our Trusts & Estates department at (786) 837-6787.