Berman & Asbel, LLP

Amending a trust document correctly

Pennsylvania residents may wish to amend a trust document for many different reasons. Beneficiaries named in the original trust may have died, there may be new beneficiaries to name or there may be changes to the assets that are controlled by the trust. Whatever reasons they have, it is important that they make the amendments correctly.

After setting up a trust, most people are given the original trust document and copies as well. It is important to know that writing amendments on the original trust document could completely invalidate both the amendments and the trust. To legally amend a trust, a person must create separate documents that are signed, dated, notarized and then placed on top of the original trust document.

The correct placement of amendments with an original trust document is an important step to avoid confusion. Placing the amendments before the trust will ensure that they are not overlooked when the entire trust is read. After about three or four amendments to a trust have been created, the trust may need to be restated with all of the amendments incorporated into it.

When trusts are amended, changes may also need to be made to a person's will and power of attorney. This would notably be the case if a new trustee is being appointed. It is not uncommon for the trustee of a trust and the executor of the person's will to be the same individual, and thus consistency in administration may be desired. An estate planning attorney can often help to ensure that the changes are uniform and seamless.

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