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WILLS/TRUST 3: What constitutes a Trust amendment?

The issue of whether a trust can be amended is governed by the Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC), MCL 700.1101, its underlying purposes and policies, which include all of the following:

(a) To simplify and clarify the law concerning the affairs of decedents, missing individuals, protected individuals, minors, and legally incapacitated individuals.

(b) To discover and make effective a decedent’s intent in distribution of the decedent’s property.

(c) To promote a speedy and efficient system for liquidating a decedent’s estate and making distribution to the decedent’s successor.

(d) To make the law uniform among the various jurisdictions, both within and outside of their state.

MCL 700.7602(3)(a) controls a situation of whether a trust can be amended. It provides as follows: The settlor may revoke or amend a revocable trust by substantially complying with a method provided in the terms of the trust.

When resolving a dispute regarding the meaning of a trust’s provisions, the Court is required to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the settlor.  The Court does so by looking to the language of the trust itself.  If the trust’s language is unambiguous, this Court must enforce it according to its plain and ordinary meaning.  If the trust’s language is ambiguous, however, courts may look to the circumstances surrounding the execution of the trust as well as other rules of contract construction.

Can you amend your trust document?  If your circumstances have changed due to marriage, divorce, children or adoption, you may need to update your estate planning documents to reflect your current wishes and needs.  You want to be certain that your estate plan accomplishes what you want it to, thus minimizing the risk of disputes and litigation.  Aldrich Legal Services can review your existing estate planning documents and ensure any amendments comply with the legal requirements.

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