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June 21, 2022

Can a Revocable Trust be amended?

A revocable trust can be amended anytime during your life. Learn more about situations that necessitate seeing your attorney to make such changes.

Can a Revocable Trust be amended?

Yes. A Revocable Living Trust (RLT) can be amended.

One aspect of RLTs that clients find particularly appealing is the ability to change them with relative ease if needed. Scenarios that typically warrant making changes to your RLT include:

1. Marriage

2. The birth or adoption of a child

3. The death of a spouse, beneficiary, or successor trustee

4. Divorce

5. A substantial change in assets

6. A desire to make your adult children successor trustees

7. Moving to another state (potentially)


Upon getting married, many clients find it most convenient to create a joint trust for their joint marital assets. In this scenario, both spouses would serve as co-trustees and joint beneficiaries while alive.

The birth or adoption of a child

Typically, RLTs provide that afterborn (or adopted) children receive equal treatment. However, adding those new beneficiaries for additional clarity can be helpful. Likewise, new children can bring new considerations regarding the timing and nature of asset distribution.

The death of a spouse, beneficiary, or successor trustee

Anytime someone with a significant role in your RLT dies, it is necessary to reevaluate and make changes as needed. Death often results in a need to replace that person’s role (e.g., a successor trustee) or modify who receives certain assets.


Revising and likely replacing your RLT should be a high priority if you are divorced. The last thing you want is an ex-spouse to have control over any of your assets or receive your assets upon your death.

A substantial change in assets

New assets can potentially mean new beneficiaries if you want something specific to go to a particular individual. For example, if you acquired a second home, you may want one to go to Child A and one to go to Child B. Additionally, if you experience a significant increase in wealth, it is wise to sit down with your estate planning attorney and see if any tax implications will need addressing.

A desire to make your adult children successor trustees

Many clients first get an estate plan prepared when their children are very young. During this phase of life, you may opt to nominate a parent or sibling to serve as your successor trustee. However, later in life, when your children are in their late 20s or 30s, you may want to change your successor trustee to be your children. Adult children frequently make excellent candidates for successor trustees as well as other roles in your estate plan.

Moving to another state (potentially)

Moving to a new state does not inherently require overhauling your RLT. However, it certainly warrants having your documents reviewed by an estate planning attorney licensed in your new state of residence.

Generally, you can change any portion of your RLT while you are alive. Only upon your death (or the death of the last spouse—in the case of a Joint RLT) does the Trust become irrevocable. At that point, your instructions are set in stone, and your successor trustee steps in to manage and distribute your assets as directed in your Trust.

This article represents the opinion of the author and is intended for educational purposes. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. One should always consult with an experienced attorney before making estate planning decisions.

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