What is the difference between a Trust Amendment and Trust Restatement?

This is an important distinction and should be understood prior to getting your revocable living trust reviewed by an Estate Attorney. A Trust Amendment is a legal document that changes specific provisions of your trust but leaves all of the other provisions unchanged. This is useful for minimal changes – adding or deleting specific bequests (property you think you kids want but can careless about), changing successor trustee, updating beneficiaries/successor trustee’s legal name due to marriage.

Contrast that with a Trust Amendment and Restatement, which completely replaces and supersedes all of the provisions of the original Revocable Living Trust. The closest analogy I have for a restatement is when your grandpa loses his cool playing Monopoly and flips over the board. So the restatement is useful for significant changes – adding a new spouse as a beneficiary, completely cutting out a beneficiary, changing from distributions to children to distributions to charity (or vice versa). Also if you have already made 3-4 simple trust amendments over the last decade and you’re going to make another change then consider consolidating all of the changes with a complete amendment and restatement. This will make it easier for the successor trustee (generally you kids) by having a single document rather than a bunch of separate amendments.

A couple of housekeeping items. You don’t change the original name of date of the trust with either an Amendment or Restatement. This is so you don’t have to re-fund (title property to the trust) the trust. Don’t make the changes yourself and slip it back into the drawer. Work with an estate attorney to prepare the Trust Amendment because the it must be signed with the same formalities as the original trust agreement. So let’s not potentially void or have your trust ignored.

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