Making changes to a living trust

Life changes often create the need for estate planning changes, but when modifying a trust in Michigan, it is important to do it right. According to the American Bar Association, a trust amendment is a document that attaches to the existing trust, rather than a rewriting of the trust. In fact, if a person takes out a page, changes it, and puts it back in, this could lead to challenges and disputes later.

If the original trust was written properly, then assets can usually be added to it without any need for amendments. However, an amendment is necessary for a new asset if there is more than one beneficiary, or if it is going to a beneficiary who was not named in the trust before.

Even if a person wants to make major changes to the trust, it is probably not a good idea to revoke it and start over. The ownership of every asset in the trust would have to be transferred from the trust to the original owner, and then transferred again into the new trust. Instead, a person may have the option to restate the entire trust, making all the changes in a new version without any transfers necessary.

Michigan estate law notes that if a person other than the creator of the trust is the trustee, the creator should inform the trustee of the amendment. If the trustee is not informed, he or she is not liable for taking actions according to the instructions in the original trust.