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How Can You Change The Terms Of An Irrevocable Trust?

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To Save Estate Taxes Trusts Must be Irrevocable

People make gifts to trusts in order to remove the gifted assets from their taxable estates.  If the trusts to which those gifts are made were revocable or amendable, the assets gifted would not escape estate tax.  For estate tax planning purposes, gifts must be made to irrevocable trusts.

Changing the Provisions of Irrevocable Trusts

Irrevocable trusts can last for years – in some cases, 100 years or more.  When the person who creates the trust (the “grantor”) establishes the trust, he or she includes provisions regarding the administration of trust assets that make sense at the time.  But things change – and often the grantors (or the trustees or the trust beneficiaries) want to change the trust terms.  There are four ways to do so:  (1) exercise a power of appointment over trust assets; (2) allow the trust protector to change the trust’s terms; (3) decant the trust either under state law or the trust’s terms; and (4) ask the court to modify the trust.  Each of these options is discussed below.


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