Why would I ever need a tune-up?

You originally made your trust with the intention to minimize estate taxes.  The trust you did to minimize estate taxes splits into two trusts upon the death of the first spouse and ties up half of the family wealth.  Now the estate tax law has changed, eliminating estate taxes for most people, including you.

  • You made your trust because you wanted to avoid probate, but if you do not own your assets in your trust, you will not avoid probate.

  • You read your trust again, and it does not  provide for the right people.

  • Your trust leaves money or property outright to a person who is a person who cannot handle money responsibly, and you are now looking for a way for the trust to benefit that person without leaving all the assets to him or her all at once.

  • You want to change your successor trustee.

  • How can you accomplish a tune-up?

    If you no longer need an estate tax planning trust, and both spouses are still alive, it is easy to restate the trust so that it the complex and restrictive estate planning language is removed.  The great thing about a restatement is that the trust is amended in full without the need to transfer assets in or out of it.  If one spouse has died already, there may still be ways simplify the trust.

    You should review the trust with a lawyer once per year to make sure that all assets that belong in the trust are in the trust.

    Changing names of trustees or beneficiaries is often just a matter of doing a short amendment but  "don't try this at home."  A competently drafted amendment will make your wishes clear and give you peace of mind.

    If you need to add language to your trust to provide for a person who lacks the ability to handle finances themselves, that can be accomplished by an amendment

    Does the tune-up have to be done by the lawyer or document preparer that originally drafted my trust?

    No