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Petitioning to Modify a Trust

Estate Planning Lawyers Serving the Nashville Area

Trusts are often set up in order to manage assets either during one’s lifetime or afterwards for the benefit of one’s family. When establishing a trust, we often try to predict the future and plan appropriately. However, circumstances can change unexpectedly over time, and trusts may need to be modified accordingly. The Nashville estate planning attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC can guide people who are seeking to modify a trust. We offer dedicated representation to clients throughout Tennessee, whether they need assistance in establishing, contesting, or modifying a trust or will.

Petitioning to Modify a Trust

Depending on the type of trust and its terms, pursuing a modification may be a complex process. Generally, trusts are set up as either revocable or irrevocable. A grantor, or the person establishing a trust, who forms a revocable trust remains in control of any changes or modifications he or she wishes to make. As a result, revocable trusts are more simply modified by a grantor as he or she sees fit. If a testamentary trust is included in a will, the grantor may modify or revoke it at will. However, when a grantor dies, the trust becomes irrevocable.

When an irrevocable living trust is established, under Tennessee law, modifications are granted by petitioning the court when certain circumstances exist. One such circumstance is if the terms of the trust become contrary to public policy or unlawful. For instance, a trust may be established to facilitate the development of a drug that later becomes illegal. Modifications may also be granted based on the consent of all of the beneficiaries named, as well as the lack of an objection from the grantor. Trusts may also be affected or modified if people are involved in divorce proceedings. If a trust was established during a marriage, it is subject to equitable distribution between divorcing spouses, unless it can be shown that the trust was considered separate property by the spouses.

Trusts may be set up to achieve a specified purpose, such as to provide educational support or to provide financial support when a beneficiary reaches a certain age. Once that purpose is achieved, a testamentary trust will end. In addition, a trustee or beneficiary may be able to modify a testamentary trust if its intended purpose is no longer achievable. This may be due to a change in needs, or a situation in which the cost of the purpose and the trust’s assets are not aligned. Petitioning to modify an irrevocable trust may require detailed evidence and filings, as well as a considerable knowledge of Tennessee estate law. Consulting a seasoned attorney who can offer guidance is important to pursuing the appropriate modification.

Discuss Your Estate Planning Needs with a Nashville Attorney

Unexpected issues may affect the plan you put in place for yourself, as well as your family’s future. Making sure that you are properly prepared to make the changes necessary to your estate can be vital to protect that future. The Nashville estate planning lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC offer seasoned advice and guidance for a host of matters involving wills and trusts. Our probate attorneys can advise people in Franklin, East Nashville, Hillsboro Village, and Cool Springs, as well as other communities throughout Williamson and Davidson Counties. If you are a beneficiary or another interested party who needs help petitioning the court to modify a trust, contact us online or call 615-800-7096 to set up an appointment.