WHEN TO UPDATE YOUR TRUST?

Kimball,Tirey&St.JohnLLP 

Seven Events that May Require Changes to Your Trust 

Lori Bolander, Esq. 

November, 2015 

If you have an estate planning trust, certain events may require changes to it. If you experience 
any of the following, consider whether changes should be made to your trust: 

1. 
Death. If a key person in your trust dies, an amendment may be necessary. Ideally, 
your trust should identify backup trustees, and specify who will inherit if a primary 
beneficiary passes away before the settlor. If a trustee or beneficiary dies, review your 
trust to determine whether an alternate is identified, or whether an amendment is 
necessary. 
2. 
Divorce. If you and your spouse have a joint trust and you separate, the joint trust 
should be revoked and new wills, advanced health care directives and powers of 
attorney should be drafted and executed as soon as possible. Divorce can also affect 
named guardians of your minor children – if you have named a married couple as joint 
guardians and they separate and/or divorce, you should change the appointment of 
guardians. 
3. 
Birth. A birth in your family can affect your estate plan, even if it is not the birth of your 
child. You may have made provisions for nieces, nephews, godchildren, cousins or 
grandchildren in your trust. If you have a birth in your family, review your trust to ensure 
that the birth does not affect your distribution or alternate distribution. 
4. 
Change in Laws. Laws change frequently. Changes to your estate plan may be wise if 
there are significant changes in the law. Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP attempts to keep 
its estate planning clients apprised of significant changes in the law. 
5. 
Change in Taxes. There have been changes to the estate and gift tax laws in recent 
years. Estates under $5.34 million will not owe any estate tax. As a practical matter, that 
means that under the new rules about 99.5% of all estates will NOT owe any federal 
gift/estate tax. You can give away $14,000 to as many individuals as you desire without 
paying gift tax (up to $5.34 million). Significant tax changes may warrant changes in 
your estate plan. 
6. 
Change in Trustee. A common trust amendment is to change the successor trustee. 
Relationships and circumstances change over time and your documents should reflect 
that. Originally identified trustees may die, their life circumstances may change (i.e. 
they may become ill, incapacitated, or become so busy that they could no longer devote 
the time necessary to act as trustee), your relationship with them may change, 
something may have happened to question whether they are your best choice as a 
trustee, or you may simply prefer a different trustee. In any of these situations, you may 
wish to amend your trust to specify a new trustee. 
.
7. 
Change in Beneficiary. A primary reason for a trust amendment is to change 
beneficiaries. Beneficiaries receive your assets at your death. Death, divorce or birth 
may affect the distribution of your estate. Also consider the terms of the distribution of 
your beneficiary. If a beneficiary is young or has a substance abuse issue, you may 
wish to change the terms of distribution so that they can’t go on a wild spending spree 
with funds that you had hoped would be used for better purposes. 
When changes to your trust are necessary, let us know! Writing a letter to your trustee or 
beneficiaries or writing on the document is not sufficient to amend your trust. We can prepare 
the amendment necessary to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled. 

For questions on this article and assistance with changes to your trust, please contact the 
author Lori Bolander at (619) 231-1422 or lori.bolander@kts-law.com. Our Estate Planning 
Practice Group can assist with wills and probate, trust law, estate planning and adoptions. 

Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial 
property owners and managers. This article is for general information purposes only. Laws may have 
changed since this article was published. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office. If 
you have questions, please contact your local KTS office. For contact information, please visit our 
website: www.kts-law.com. For past Legal Alerts, Questions & Answers, and Legal Articles, please 
consult the Resource Library section of our website. 

© 2015 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP