How do you update a trust?

Posted by Barry L. BrewingtonDec 01, 20220 Comments

One of the most popular estate planning documents is the revocable living trust. A trust designated as revocable may be changed, added on to, or revoked while the grantor is alive and not incapacitated. A living trust is one that takes effect as soon as the grantor creates it. 

Just creating a revocable living trust, however, is just the first step of the process in fully realizing the benefits of a living trust. After creating the trust, the grantor must designate trustees and beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are the ones who will receive the assets owned by the trust; trustees oversee the trust's assets and ensure its instructions are followed. It is common for grantors to designate themselves as the first trustee so they can maintain control over the trust's assets.

After the grantor creates the trust, designates successor trustees and beneficiaries, and draws up the terms of the trust, they must fund the trust.

How to Fund a Living Trust 

Funding a living trust means re-titling assets so that your living trust becomes their rightful owner. This process is easier for some assets than it is for others. Many assets do not already have formal titles, so you'd simply need to include them on a general transfer document. Other assets, like real property, are relatively complicated to re-title and come with unique considerations. Most assets that already had a formal title or deed prior to the creation of your trust require a fair amount of paperwork to re-title in addition to a general transfer document.

Not funding trusts is a common mistake made by estate planners. Though it can be tedious, re-titling assets to your living trust is essential in making sure the document fulfills its purposes.

How to Amend a Living Trust

In many cases, amending a living trust is no more complicated than it was to fund the trust. If the trust contains unique instructions on amending the trust, those must be followed regardless of state law. In the absence of such instructions, a written amendment that makes the grantor's intentions clear usually suffices. 

NC Legal Documents offers forms for grantors to amend living trusts at affordable rates. Not all living trusts are the same, either, which is why we also offer living trusts for both married couples and single persons. You may view our attorney-prepared legal documents related to living trusts here.

As always, you can create a custom legal document with our service by answering a questionnaire from the convenience of your own home. Our attorneys review your information, construct your document(s), and upload it to your client portal. This “DIY Lite” method is effective for many North Carolinians. Have questions? Call our team at (704) 492-2588 today!