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Trust amendments are anything but DIY

Many positives have come about as a result of Americans’ increased involvement in estate planning and the necessary preparation for what happens to their wealth, property, and business(es) after they have passed away. Trusts, an incredibly useful means of keeping future generations’ assets secure have become increasingly common, and many families have benefitted from parents’ heightened familiarity with them.

For parents, grandparents, and all those creating or revising trusts for future generations, however, the process should be approached as anything but a “do-it-yourself” project. Without fine legal care and consideration, trust holders in Georgia and across the nation run the risk of tangling up multiple redundant trusts, affixing unnecessary and contentious amendments, and ultimately costing themselves and their families a hefty sum when it comes time to finally reconstruct what was once a clear estate plan.

Amendments can be a potent tool for keeping one’s estate plan on track to providing the right successors with the correct allocation of assets; however, anything more than one or two changes to an existing living will or trust may engender a legal headache down the road.

An additional option for those looking to change an existing estate plan is to create an entirely new trust. Sometimes known as a trust restatement, a new fund can be set up with the help of an attorney. That trust, if properly worded, will draw upon the funds of the past trust, allowing the old document to be discarded even as its monetary foundation is kept intact.

However, if trust holders attempt to take legal matters into their own hands, problems can quickly arise. Perhaps the most troublesome outcome that can arise when creating a new trust is a mistake in wording and structure that, instead of rolling a old trusts funds into a new agreement, fashions two partially funded and incomplete trusts. A situation like this could leave future trustees high and dry with little or no means of recovering the funds once set aside for them and their families.

Although trusts are becoming more and more commonplace for families nationwide, that increased familiarity should not give the impression that trusts can be amended or reformed without the help of a skilled estate planning attorney.

Source: NWI Times, “ESTATE PLANNING: Trusts are not a do-it-yourself job,” Christopher W. Yugo, Jan. 13, 2013