Estate Planning Law

Is it Difficult to Change an Irrevocable Trust?

You may have your estate plan already in place, including an irrevocable trust, but sometimes circumstances change.  It could be you want to modify your irrevocable trust due to a change in financial situation, the death of a loved one, or an unforeseen change in circumstances.  So, can you modify your irrevocable trust?  The answer is yes, depending on the circumstances.   

In this article, we are going to discuss the ways in which you can modify an irrevocable trust.  At Doane & Doane, PA, we are passionate about giving our clients the personalized legal counsel they need to appropriately take care of many major life and death decisions, such as estate planning.

So, to answer your irrevocable trust questions, we welcome you to consider contacting us at Doane & Doane, PA for estate planning advice and services.  You can contact us today at 561-656-0200 or fill out our online contact form.

The Parties in a Trust

Before we get started on how to change an irrevocable trust, it’s important that you understand the different parties of trust as we will be talking about them in this article.

There are three main parties in every trust in Florida. They include:

1. Grantor: this is the person who created the trust
2. Trustee:  A trustee manages the trust. The Grantor can appoint themselves as trustee or they can appoint a third party.
3. Beneficiaries: The beneficiaries are the people who are going to receive the assets in the trust.

The Florida Trust Code

In Florida, once an irrevocable trust is created, executed, and funded, it normally is not subject to modification or revocation.  

However, the Florida Trust Code does allow a court to modify an irrevocable trust when the modification would be consistent with the intent of the Grantor.

The Florida Trust Code does give three scenarios that allow for an irrevocable trust’s terms to be modified. They include:

1. When the purpose of the trust has become illegal, the purpose of the trust has been fulfilled, or it is impractical or impossible to fulfill the terms of the trust.
2. If unforeseen circumstances arise and compliance with the irrevocable trust impairs the purpose of the trust
3. A valid purpose for the trust is no longer present. 

In the state of Florida, the courts do have broad discretion to terminate or change an irrevocable trust or make changes in how the assets are distributed if the court finds it necessary. 

Additionally, a Florida court may rule to modify an irrevocable trust if the trust itself is no longer in the best interests of any beneficiaries.

It’s important to note, that while the Florida courts can modify a trust, it must adhere to the grantor’s intention when it makes any changes or modifications.

Florida Common Law

When it comes to how to change an irrevocable trust, you may find that Florida Common Law may be the proper vehicle to use. 

Florida common law does allow a modification to an irrevocable trust without the Florida court first having to make any decisions about the practicality of the trust. 

The beneficiaries and the grantor could come to an agreement to either terminate or change the irrevocable trust and petition the Florida courts for a modification.

Because the grantor and the beneficiaries are all in agreement to terminate or modify the trust, there isn’t a reason to keep the trust as it was written. 

Using Florida common law to modify or terminate a trust does not violate the Florida Trust Code because the Code does not prohibit the beneficiaries and the grantor from consenting to a modification. 

Reformation

The Florida Trust Code does allow the courts to make any changes necessary to correct a mistake in order to ensure the trust clearly states the grantor’s intent. 

When the grantor or another interested person and/or party, requests the court to reform a trust, the court can do so even in cases where the language may be ambiguous. 

To accomplish this, the person who is asking for the reformation must show the Florida court that the intent of the grantor was affected by the mistake. 

The key is for the parties involved to get the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.

Trusts are extremely popular in the state of Florida, and there’s a strong possibility that sometime in your lifetime you will want to create an irrevocable trust. 

Understanding how to change an irrevocable trust, if necessary is important. However, there isn’t a guarantee that the Florida courts will approve your request to change your irrevocable trust. 

If you find yourself in a position where making changes to your irrevocable trust is necessary, it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable trust attorney to discuss your options. 

Look to Doane & Doane for Help with Estate Planning Options

Founded in 2003 by husband and wife legal team, Randell C. Doane and Rebecca G. Doane, Doane & Doane provides legal and financial services to families, individuals, and businesses throughout Southeast Florida.

Estate planning is about much more than just giving away property.  It is an act of love and kindness, with the ultimate goal of providing for the future financial security of your loved one.  At Doane & Doane, our Wills and Trusts Attorneys in West Palm Beach help people plan for retirement, make provisions for loved ones, figure out future child support, and minimize tax liability.  Experienced wills and trusts attorneys know which tools to use to get the best results for their clients.  Our lawyers can help you determine which tools are best suited to your specific circumstances.

When it comes to probate matters, such as the formal administration of an estate, Florida fiduciaries seek the assistance of the attorneys at Doane & Doane, P.A. to administer and manage their trusts and estates.  Notably, the founding partners of Doane & Doane are board-certified West Palm Beach Probate Attorneys.  With the additional advantage of certified public accountancy in their backgrounds, they present a unique combination of skills and experience which enables them to effectively settle, administer, and manage clients’ trusts and estates.

Call us at Doane & Doane, P.A., to help you if you are faced with a probate matter, or if you would like estate planning services in Florida.  You can reach us at 561-656-0200.  Call us today.

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not decide whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.