As the name suggests, a revocable trust can be dissolved or revoked at any time. But by who is important. The only person who has the ability to dissolve a revocable trust is the person who created it in the first place. The formal term for the person who creates the trust is the “settlor. If you, with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, have created a revocable trust, good for you!
Revocable Trust Basics
In California, where probate can be a long and expensive process, a revocable trust is an estate planning tool that is now primarily used as it is a convenient and efficient means to avoid the probate process and distribute your assets quickly, efficiently, and privately upon your death. Today it is the most common way to distribute assets instead of using a will.
Revocable trusts, also sometimes referred to as living trusts, because while you are living, you can continually make changes to the terms of the trust as long as you are alive and mentally competent. You can modify, change, or revoke (terminate) it at any time without the approval of your beneficiaries.
In terms of asset management, revocable trusts provide a more hands-on approach to managing assets. Your revocable trust is funded by moving assets into it. Common assets would be real estate, financial accounts, life insurance, annuity certificates, personal property, and business interests.
This type of trust is a good way to make sure your heirs can properly handle their inheritance, particularly if they are young, incapacitated, or irresponsible with money. You can leave instructions that the money be given in certain amounts and at certain times such as birthdays and/or graduation from college and your trustee will carry out that distribution schedule.
Who Has Revoking Authority
Generally speaking, to dissolve a revocable trust, it can only be revoked by the trust’s creator – the settlor. In some cases, the settlor may grant a trusted designated agent to have that authority. This often makes sense in case you are incapacitated and no longer able to make decisions.
However, if the revocable trust has multiple agents, the law requires that any action to revoke the trust must be done in agreement with all the agents. So if one agent decides to revoke the trust, they will not have the authority to do so unless every other agent agrees with the action.
Additionally, no one agent can create changes or instigate new trust terms without the full support of the other agents. This rule exists to prevent any agent from abusing or misusing the terms of the trust for their own purposes, thus protecting the original intentions of the trust’s creator.
How to Revoke
In the state of California, the ability to revoke a trust requires the creator to be mentally capable of understanding what revoking will mean. Simply put you will retain authority over your revocable trust while you are mentally healthy enough to understand the implications of revoking the trust. If you are not, ideally you have designated a trusted agent to responsibly and fiduciarily supervise the terms of the trust. If you are mentally incapacitated and try to revoke the trust, you can be prevented from doing so.
Before deciding to revoke a trust, you or your agent will need to consider 3 things:
- That you understand all of the responsibilities that come with being in charge of the trust, especially the duties the trust will demand and the legal rights and responsibilities they have to exercise to use and protect the trust duties.
- That you understand the possible outcomes of every decision made as the settlor or the trust’s agents, both good and bad.
- and that any alternative decisions that are available to them have been considered
However, should anyone try to pressure, trick, or manipulate the settlor while they are mentally incapacitated into revoking the trust, it will be possible for other concerned parties to legally contest the action.
Contact Us Today
Attorney Andrew Fesler has a customer-centered approach to his practice. As a sole practitioner, believes that each client deserves quality and thoughtful service that is individualized to meet their needs. He can even travel to you if that is important!
To find out more about who can dissolve a revocable trust, about revocable trusts, or how we can help you with all aspects of comprehensive estate planning in California, contact the Law Office of Andrew Fesler today.