How do you change your Oklahoma living trust agreement when life changes on you?

From Flickr User Rob Mitchell

Sometimes you do your Oklahoma estate planning and create a revocable living trust and then life changes for you and you need your trust to change.  Fortunately, you have an Oklahoma revocable living trust so you can change it anytime while you are alive. 

To address life’s changing circumstances, there are two primary ways that you can change your Oklahoma revocable living trust agreement: 

From Flickr User Allen Warren

Amendment and Restatement.
Amendment is a change to one or more of the provisions of the Trust Agreement while leaving the rest of the Trust Agreement unchanged.  An example of an amendment is if you want to change the people you have nominated to be the trustee of the Trust after you are no longer able to be Trustee.
Restatement means creating an entirely new Trust Agreement that takes the place of the existing Trust Agreement.  The name of the Trust Agreement and its creation date remain the same through a Restatement, with the name coming out with something like this:  “The Smith Family Revocable Trust Agreement” would end up with a name like “The Smith Family Trust Revocable Trust Agreement, as Amended and Restated”.  As one writer explains “The underlying document defining the role of the trustee, the interests of the beneficiaries, and other important provisions may be altered, but the actual trust agreement keeps its same name and the same date. Think of a restatement as a total makeover for your revocable trust – the “old” trust is still there; it’s just totally updated to suit the client’s needs” (From Restatement of Trust, or Amendment? by Matthew T. McClintock at this link).
When should I amend a Trust?
Amending a Trust Agreement is usually appropriate when you want to make simple changes such as changes to the names of the Trustees or the names of beneficiaries.  Simple changes usually mean a change to one or maybe two provisions in a Trust Agreement, perhaps affecting only a couple of sentences in the Trust Agreement.
When should I restate a Trust?
Restating a Trust Agreement is usually appropriate when you want to change an entire Trust section, such as the Trust section that addresses the distribution of your property or after you have already amended the Trust Agreement several times.  Multiple amendments to a Trust Agreement can become difficult to track and to reconcile together because the “Trust Agreement” is the sum of the original Trust document plus all of the amendments.  For example, when you read Section 3 of a Trust Agreement that has been amended, you need to read not only Section 3 in the original Trust document but all amendments that address Section 3.
Will the name of the Trust change with a Restatement?
No.  An amended and restated trust agreement takes the place of the original trust document but keeps the same name and the original date the Trust was signed.  Keeping the same name and date means that usually, you will not have to re-title assets that are owned by the Trust.
For more information about Oklahoma Estate Planning, including creating a revocable trust agreement, consider this Post and this Post.

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."