Should I amend my living trust when I buy more property? This reader moved and purchased two new properties since they last amended their trust in 2006.

Q: I live in Florida and have a living trust which was amended in 2006. My daughter is my only heir and has now married. I have moved, and have purchased 2 homes that I now use as rentals. Can I just amend my trust to update it? Would the document be an “Amendment?”

Should I Amend My Living Trust When I Buy More Property?

A: The good news is you may not need to amend your living trust. But you will need to review it to see what it says. 

Just about every living trust will have a statement in it as to what should be done with the property owned by the trust. Not only that, the document almost always provides for a replacement trustee, should you die or become incapacitated.

We’ll assume that the ownership of your home in Florida was held in the living trust, that your daughter is the successor trustee to you and that she would receive the properties held in the trust at the time of your death. 

Now that your daughter is married, the question for you is whether your daughter is (and will continue to be) the successor beneficiary to you and whether you want her to get everything in the trust when you die. If the answer to those questions is yes, then you may not need to amend your trust.

Amending and Restating a Living Trust

If, on the other hand, you want to change the successor trustee or designate that your properties go to different people, we would encourage you to take a look at amending it. You should know, however, that many estate attorneys might prefer to amend and restate the trust in its entirety. This means that you would end up with a whole new trust document – at a greater cost. 

It’s understandable that one whole new document will be clearer than a trust document that may have various amendments over time. Another advantage of a whole new document is that the old trust document and the new amendment won’t get separated. The worst thing that can happen is that you die and someone finds the trust document without the amendment and your real instructions are not followed. 

When you amend and restate the trust, you can void all old copies so that people recognize that the amended and restated trust document is the one that should be followed. Having said all that, please talk to the attorney that helped you with the original trust document or the attorney you have selected for the changes to your trust. Thank you for your letter.

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