Question 1: How do I change the terms of the testamentary trust?
When you create a testamentary trust, you write a will or living trust in which you detail the terms under which the testamentary trust will operate after your death. Because they will does not become effective until you die, the testamentary trust does not get created until after you die. So, the only way to change the terms of a testamentary trust is to amend the terms of your last will and testament or your living trust.
Question 2: Can the beneficiaries change the terms of the testamentary trust?
Probably not. If the beneficiaries want to change or amend the testamentary trust terms, they will have to go before probate judge and convince the judge the amendment is acceptable. This is a very difficult standard to meet, and it is very rare that a judge will agree to such a change.
Question 3: What about a revocable testamentary trust?
That’s impossible because there is no such thing as a revocable testamentary trust. All testamentary trusts are irrevocable, meaning their terms are essentially set in stone once the trust is created. Until the trust maker dies, he or she can change the terms by modifying his or her last will and testament or living trust. But, once the trust maker dies and the will or trust becomes effective, the terms of the testamentary trust are always irrevocable.
The use of testamentary trusts can be effective and useful tools for handling assets passing to beneficiaries after your death when an outright distribution would be ill advised. Examples include gifts to minors, disabled persons, those with substance abuse problems, bad marriages and financial troubles.