When thinking about the possible options you want to use to create a comprehensive estate plan, using a trust may come to mind. However, you may also have reservations about utilizing this planning tool because there seems to be little flexibility in terms of changing the document once you have created it. Fortunately, that does not have to be the case.
You can take steps to make your trust more flexible, even if the flexibility applies to how the trust is handled after your passing. Putting certain details in place could allow you to feel more comfortable in using a trust to protect your assets and have more control over property distribution later.
Giving your trustee certain powers
When you create your trust, you can detail how and when you want certain assets distributed and to whom. Of course, you may not be able to account for every possibility that could occur in the future, and you may worry that the terms you set may cause unnecessary hardships for your beneficiaries. In this case, you may want to consider allowing your trustee to use his or her own discretion when it comes to distributing assets.
This does not mean that he or she gains all decision-making power over distribution. Your trustee must still follow your instructions. However, it could give him or her some leeway when it comes to deciding to distribute assets in a questionable situation.
Appointing a trust protector
After your passing, your trust could face unexpected issues. In order to have someone in charge of addressing those issues, you may want to appoint a trust protector. The trust protector does not act in the same way as the trustee. The protector will have the responsibility of finding solutions to issues that arise with the trust, including removing a trustee if he or she abuses the allowable power.
Decanting a trust
Decanting a trust can take place while you are still alive. If you have created an irrevocable trust, but feel as if the terms no longer suit your wishes or the circumstances, you may be able to allow the trustee to decant. This essentially involves creating a new trust and pouring the assets from the old trust into the new one. Though decanting is not allowed in all states, North Carolina does have decanting statutes.
Trusts can be immensely valuable estate planning tools. If you would like more information on how you could make your trust more flexible, you may find it helpful to discuss the subject with an experienced attorney.