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Irrevocable Trusts Can Actually Be Revoked ... Say What?

Here are some developments in trust law that led to irrevocable trusts being not exactly irrevocable.

Is an irrevocable trust truly unchangeable? In the past, it almost certainly was. But this irrevocability led to problems when the circumstances that existed when the trust was created changed greatly and made the trust less than ideal.

Lawyers and judges grew increasingly frustrated about trusts that needed to be revoked, but were difficult to revoke. Fortunately, over the last 20 years or so, legal developments have made it much easier to revoke a so-called irrevocable trust.

The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog recently published a list of these developments in "Taking the Meaning Out of 'Irrevocable'."

The list includes:

  • 29 states and Washington D.C. have passed the Uniform Trust Code which allows courts to modify or terminate irrevocable trusts.
  • 22 states have decanting statutes.
  • Two states have passed the Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act which allows revocation in some circumstances.

Do you have an irrevocable trust, are the trustee of one, or are the beneficiary of one? If yes, and you believe the trust should be modified or revoked, you do have options.

This is not a do-it-yourself project, however. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney to explore your options.

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