Amending Your Trust Document

You can make simple amendments to trust document you make with Nolo's Living Trust, even after you sign it.

Who Can Amend Your Trust Document

Who can amend the terms of a living trust document depends on whether you created an individual living trust or a shared one.

Individual living trust. If you created an individual living trust, you can amend the trust document at any time.

Shared living trust. If you made a trust with your spouse or partner, then while both of you are alive, you both must agree to amend any provision of the trust document -- for example, to change a beneficiary, a successor trustee or the property management set up for a young beneficiary. After one grantor dies, the shared living trust is split into two trusts, one of which can no longer be amended. (This is explained in After a Grantor Dies.)

Adding or Deleting Property

If you acquire valuable items of property after you create your living trust, you should promptly add them to the trust. You might also want to remove some items.

There are four steps to take:

Step 1: Revise your property schedule – Schedule A-- adding new items or deleting old ones. You can revise your property schedule by recreating it using a word processing program or typewriter. Double check to make sure it lists every single item of property that you want in your trust.

Step 2: Sign the revised property schedule it and replace the old one on your signed original trust document.

Step 3: If you added property, transfer ownership of the property to yourself as trustee. You'll need to change the property's title document or, if the item doesn't have a title document, use the Assignment of Property form, showing that you are holding the item in trust. If you removed an item, transfer it out of the trust, either by changing its title document (a deed, for example) or using an Assignment of Property that transfers it from you as trustee to you as individual.

Step 4: If you need to name a beneficiary for property you've added, create an amended trust document (as discussed below). You won't need to amend your trust document if you left all your trust property to one person or if you want the new property to go to the residuary beneficiary.

EXAMPLE: Rose and her husband Michael created a trust several years ago. Now they're buying a house and take title as "Rose Morris and Michael Morris, Trustees of the Rose Morris and Michael Morris Revocable Living Trust dated January 13, 20xx." They then prepare a revised Schedule A (which lists co-owned property) of their trust document, print it out, sign it and replace the old Schedule A.

Because their trust document leaves all their property to each other, they do not need to amend their trust document.

Changing Provisions of the Trust Document -- Restatement

If you want to change your signed trust document, you will create what's called an "amended and restated" version of it. When you return to the program after signing your original trust document, you'll go through the trust interview again, make your changes and then print out the entire trust document. The new trust document will be labeled as an amended and restated version of the original. It will also state that whatever property you already hold in the trust doesn't have to be transferred again; it stays in trust. (If you created an entirely new trust, signed on a different date, you would have to transfer all trust property from the old trust to the new one.)

Shared Trust If One Grantor Has Died

After one grantor has died, you cannot use the program to make changes to the trust document. If you're the surviving grantor and want to make changes to your ongoing survivor's trust, you have two options: Have a lawyer draw up an amendment, or make a new, individual trust.

Amendments. There are limits to what you can change after one grantor dies. Of course, you cannot change any of the deceased grantor's directions about who inherits his or her trust property. But if you see a lawyer for customized amendments, you can:

  • name a different successor trustee
  • name or change beneficiaries to inherit your trust property
  • name a different person to make incapacity decisions, or
  • change property management for young beneficiaries.

Revocation. Some survivors prefer to revoke the original trust and make a new one, in their name only, so that at their death it's clear who owned everything. To do this, however, you must be sure to transfer property from the old trust to the new -- a bit of paperwork that you may find worth the effort.

Sample Amended and Restated Trust Document (first page)

The Richard Jenkins and Patricia Jenkins Revocable Living Trust
Amended and Restated Declaration of Trust

Richard Jenkins and Patricia Jenkins are the grantors of the Richard Jenkins and Patricia Jenkins Revocable Living Trust created under the Declaration of Trust dated May 20, 20xx (the "Declaration of Trust"). Richard Jenkins and Patricia Jenkins are also the trustees appointed and acting under the terms of that Declaration of Trust. Under the power reserved to the grantors by Part 5 of the Declaration of Trust, the grantors hereby amend and restate the Declaration of Trust as set out in this document.

The trustees hereby consent to the terms of this amended and restated Declaration of Trust. The parties agree that, upon execution of this instrument, the Declaration of Trust shall be replaced in whole, and the terms of this amended and restated Declaration of Trust shall supersede the terms of that Declaration of Trust for all purposes.

The grantors and the trustees confirm that all assets currently titled in the name of the trustees of the Richard Jenkins and Patricia Jenkins Revocable Living Trust shall continue to be held by the trustees as assets of the amended and restated trust.

Part 1. Trust Name

This revocable living trust shall be known as the Richard Jenkins and Patricia Jenkins Revocable Living Trust.

Part 2. Declaration of Trust

Richard Jenkins and Patricia Jenkins, called the grantors, declare that they have transferred and delivered to the trustees all their interest in the property described in Schedules A, B and C attached to this Declaration of Trust. All of that property is called the "trust property." The trustees hereby acknowledge receipt of the trust property and agree to hold the trust property in trust, according to this Declaration of Trust.

Either grantor may add property to the trust.