Reviews, restatements, and amendments
It is important to take the Estate Planning process seriously and collaborate well with your attorney. This is the only way to have a good plan that is customized for your specific situation. That being said, the revocable living trust is a common Estate Planning tool, which can be revoked, restated, or amended by an attorney during your lifetime should your circumstances or wishes change.
After an Estate Plan is created, there are some steps you need to take immediately, shortly after, and over time to make sure it works as intended. This post focuses on the measures to take for the long term to keep your Estate Plan up to date and consistent with your wishes and family dynamics.
Reviews are self explanatory, when you go through the documents and look them over. When you have completed your Estate Plan, our rule of thumb is to review the documents every three years or whenever there is a change to your family dynamics, relationships, or wishes. If there are circumstances that you feel require your Estate Plan to change, then it is very important to consult with an attorney then have her review the plan with you to determine next and best steps.
Should the Estate Plan need to be changed, there are a few ways that this may be handled. Revocations are only really used when the clients decide no longer to utilize their trust; in a practical sense, this generally happens when a couple has a joint trust and they decide to separate. We will not focus on revocations in this post. When the Estate Plan is kept in tact and changes are made, these are in the form of Restatements and Amendments; they are used for different levels of revisions to your Estate Plan.
Restatements are considered a complete replacement of your current trust. The Restatement keeps the same name as the original trust so that all the funding of the trust does not need to be redone. All of the content, however, is replaced. This allows a client to make significant changes to their plan in the most efficient manner. Furthermore, Restatements will account for changes to wishes, nominations, and relevant changes in the law.
Amendments are made through legal documents to change particular portions of a revocable living trust. The Amendment references the existing revocable living trust and everything other than the sections that are specifically amended stay in full effect. These are used when there are very minor changes, for instance, the age of inheritance or the successor trustees.
Note: If you have an existing Estate Plan that you want to change and plan to use a different attorney than you originally used, many attorneys will only execute Restatements. This is because the most recent attorney working on your plan takes on responsibility and liability of your entire Estate Plan, even if she just made a small amendment. Should you use the same attorney for the changes to your plan, they may opt to do an amendment if the change is minor and the laws have not changed.
Regardless of the extent of changes that you need to have made to your Estate Plan, it is imperative that you discuss this with an attorney who will take the time to understand the circumstances and explain the impact of what you would like to accomplish.