question.jpgIn Trusts and Estates

How can the parties to a trust modify it?

The creator of a trust, the settlor, may be able to modify a trust depending on the terms of the trust and the relevant state law. In most states, the law is that a settlor can modify, amend or even revoke a trust if the trust itself says that the settlor can make such modifications. A few other states say that a settlor can modify or revoke a trust unless the trust says otherwise (in other words, those states presume that trusts can be modified). Thus, it is always a good idea to include explicit provisions in a trust regarding whether or not the settlor can later modify or revoke the trust.

The trustee generally cannot make any modifications to the trust without first getting permission from the court. However, some trusts include provisions giving the trustee the ability to make modifications in limited situations, such as to split the trust into multiple trusts with identical terms, if such a split would result in reduced taxes. Trustees can also generally modify a trust if they obtain the permission of all the trust beneficiaries.

Beneficiaries can generally never modify the trust, and must go to court and request that the court modify the trust if there are changes the beneficiaries want made.