Can a Revocable Trust Be Changed?


As the years go by, you may wonder: Can a revocable trust be changed? One of the advantages of creating a revocable living trust is that it can be changed or revoked at any time during the creator’s life. Here’s an overview of who can change a revocable trust, when to change it, and how to do so.

Who Can Change a Trust?

A revocable living trust can be amended by the trust settlor(s) – the person or people who created it, at any time during their lifetimes. Once the last settlor passes away, their revocable trust becomes irrevocable and can no longer be changed. 

Amendment vs. Restatement

Two primary ways to change a trust are an amendment or a restatement.

Amendment: When you wish to make one or a few minor alterations to your trust, an amendment might be the right choice for you. This document can be drafted by your estate planning attorney. Two common changes you can make in an amendment include changing your successor trustee(s) and changing your trust distribution.

Restatement: When you wish to make more extensive changes to your trust, you may wish to have your trust attorney draft a document called a “restatement of trust”. A restatement allows you to start fresh with an entirely new trust, which keeps the same name as the previous trust. By keeping the same trust name, you save yourself the time and expense of needing to transfer all of your assets into a different trust. 

When to Change Your Trust

We typically recommend that our clients meet with their estate planning attorney about every five years to review their estate plan and discuss potential changes. Here are a few common reasons you may want or need to change your estate plan:

#1 Changes in Family Relations

A few examples of relationship changes that could impact your trust include:

  • Divorce
  • Death or illness of a spouse, successor trustee, beneficiary, or guardian
  • Getting married 
  • Birth, adoption, severe illness, marriage, or divorce of a child, grandchild, or beneficiary
  • Minor child turning 18
  • Major change in a relationship dynamic
  • Financial irresponsibility of a beneficiary

#2 Changes in Economic Conditions

If you experience a shift in your economic situation, you may want to change your trust to reflect that. Such changes may include:

  1. Major changes in estate value
  2. Changes in insurability for life insurance
  3. Changes in employment or retirement
  4. Changes in business interests (such as a new partnership or corporation)

#3 External Changes

External changes may also necessitate changing your trust, like:

  1. Changes in state or federal laws pertaining to trust or tax law
  2. Moving to or acquiring property in a different state

Revoking Your Trust

What if you don’t just want to change your trust, you want to completely get rid of it? As the name implies, a revocable trust can be revoked by the creator at any time during their lifetime. Examples of when a revocation may be appropriate are:

  • After a divorce
  • If you want to make significant and possibly confusing revisions
  • If you want to create a new trust with a new name

To revoke a trust, you would first remove all assets out of the trust by changing the title to those assets, including real estate. Then you would sign a legal document called “Revocation of Trust”. 

Can a revocable trust be changed? Yes, but be careful to avoid trying to make any changes on your own. Doing so may inadvertently invalidate your estate plan. Always seek legal advice from an experienced estate planning attorney when changing your trust. If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to contact your office.

Law Offices of Daniel A. Hunt

The Law Offices of Daniel A. Hunt is a California law firm specializing in Estate Planning; Trust Administration & Litigation; Probate; and Conservatorships. We've helped over 10,000 clients find peace of mind. We serve clients throughout the greater Sacramento region and the state of California.