You want to amend your Living Trust, but do not want to spend the money or take the time to meet with an attorney to discuss the modifications. Instead, you make handwritten notes updating your beneficiaries or modifying their respective percentages and consider your Living Trust updated. Unfortunately, what seems clear to you, may cause confusion or even litigation after you pass.
Think of this scenario: You jot down some specific instructions for reducing the number of beneficiaries and adding specific Special Bequests. You attach the note to your Living Trust, put the document back in your safe, and consider an amendment made. After all, these are your wishes. Think again!
According to a recent court case, the court found that handwritten interlineations, on a Living Trust, do NOT constitute a valid amendment. While it may be clear that you wanted the changes made, a formal written document was never actually signed in compliance with the Living Trust’s terms. Therefore, the changes you wanted to take affect after you die, may not be upheld.
In addition, all beneficiaries of your Living Trust are entitled to a copy of the Living Trust document. Therefore, any major changes that are handwritten, are likely to be challenged, due to hurt feelings or simply the ambiguity of the handwritten note.
There are formal requirements to follow to make certain Living Trust documents and/or amendments are valid and will be upheld in court. So, if you find that there are updates you want to make to your Living Trust, it is very important to see an estate planning attorney to get the job done right and ensure your wishes will be upheld.
Our office can answer any questions you may have regarding your estate plan. We would love to help.