Trusts were once considered to be only for those with extensive estate assets; however, those days are long gone. Today, even someone with a modest estate can potentially benefit from the inclusion of a trust in his or her estate plan. The terms you include in a trust will dictate who receives the trust assets, when they are distributed, and what they can be used for in many cases. What happens though if you want to change one of those terms (or anything else in your trust)?

First, not all trusts can be changed once created. An irrevocable living trust cannot be changed once it becomes effective absent a court order in most cases. Other trusts, however, can usually be changed. A testamentary trust is a trust that is included in your Last Will and Testament and only takes effect when you die. Because of this, a testamentary trust can be easily changed up to the point of your death.

An inter vivos trust, or living trust, becomes effective during your lifetime. This type of trust can be changed by creating a trust amendment. To do this, you will make all the necessary changes on a sheet of paper and “amend” it to the original trust document. For more extensive changes, a trust restatement may be necessary. A trust restatement replaces the entire trust document but retains the original date.

Be sure to consult with your estate planning attorney to decide what the best way is to make  any needed changes to your trust.