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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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How can we change an AB Living Trust to just a regular Living

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How can we change an AB Living Trust to just a regular Living Trust?

What you are trying to do is pretty difficult, unless you revoke the existing trust and create a new one in its place.

The reason is that an A/B trust has a lot of various terms and conditions that are necessary to create the appropriate provisions. So, you can't just cross out a few lines and convert it to a trust without a decedent's trust.

I'm wondering why this matters. The A/B trust form is the best protection against probate available, and even if your estate is less than $10,,000,000, the language generally covers smaller estates.

Feel free to explain your situation, and I'll try to help.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

My husband and I have 4 children from previous marriages. We want the estate to be divided equally among the 4. As I understand an AB trust, 1/2 goes to his heirs and 1/2 to my heirs. Am I correct in this? The estate isn't millions, perhaps about +/- $500,000 at best. He has 3 and I have 1 and 250,000 divided 3 ways doesn't seem very fair. We really didn't understand all of this when we got the trust about 10 years ago but now that we're in our 70's it's something we're looking at more closely. Thanks for a response.

Okay, thanks for the update.

An A/B trust separates assets only for the purposes of minimizing estate tax liability. It does not effect the ultimate distributions. If you and your husband have directed assets in differing proportions to various children, those distributions will be enforced, even though there is a prior A/B division, during the surviving spouse's lifetime.

So, there's probably nothing to do at all. Look at all the money and hassle you've saved!!!

Hope this helps.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I have just one more question -- can we add a name to the Successor Trustee by hand-writing it in? The son we designated died and a daughter is established as the Successor Trustee -- but she's a very busy woman and we'd like to add our son-in-law to that task when it becomes necessary. Besides that they live in our same town and my daughter lives 50 miles away.
You would have to formally amend the trust. This can be done by a revocation and amendment that would be one page whereby each settlor declares the original trust revoked, and then amended to add the new successor trustee's name, and then states that with the exception of the addition, the original trust remains in full force and effect.

And, then you would both sign before a notary public.

A handwritten amendment would likely be interpreted as invalid, because for starters, only one settlor's handwriting would be present -- which would only show one settlor's intent.

Of course you could both write the exact same thing onto the face of the trust, but it could be pretty difficult to squeeze things in, effectively.

Also, to be frank, son-in-laws sometimes become "ex" son-in-laws. So, while I'm sure you have nothing but the best intentions here, be careful about naming an "in-law" as a trustee, because I have seen this sort of thing go awry before.

You could probably get a lawyer to write a one-page amendment for maybe $150 -- if your only change is to add the successor trustee and delete the deceased child (my condolences, by the way).

For an estate planning attorney referral, see this link.

Hope this helps.