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Steps in revoking a revocable trust

A person who has a revocable trust as part of an overall estate plan can revoke that trust at any time. However, the process may not be a simple one. A Florida resident who decides to change an estate plan in this way may want to consult an attorney to ensure that the process is done correctly.

Trusts are complex documents, and the language in them can be hard to understand. This can mean that a trust may look confusing to someone unfamiliar with them even when they are prepared correctly. In one case, a man's parents wanted to cancel a trust they had used for their $2 million estate. They did not revoke the trust. Instead, they began transferring the property back into their own name. Their wills still made reference to the trust. The man wondered it would be sufficient for them to complete a signed, handwritten statement that revoked their wills and the trust and reinstated their previous wills.

The problem with this approach is that revoking a new will does not reactivate the previous will. In most cases, people need to create and sign new wills. They also need a document that revokes the trust. This helps ensure there is no confusion if they forget to remove an asset or die before they finish removing assets.

It is generally a good idea to periodically review wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents regularly even for people who have no intention of revoking them. Beneficiary designations are particularly likely to be overlooked after a major life change, such as a divorce. This can mean that an ex-spouse might end up inheriting a retirement account or other assets since a beneficiary designation overrides wills. Changes in tax law may also mean that an estate plan needs to be revised.

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