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Avoid Florida trust mistakes with professional assistance

America takes pride in a do-it-yourself attitude, and many West Palm Beach residents probably feel the same way. Taking care of a job at hand can certainly bring a sense of personal satisfaction, but most of us recognize that some jobs are better left to professionals.

For example, estate planning professionals generally recommend that most people not rely upon do-it-yourself will kits or power of attorney packages because they may not be tailored to account for specific requirements of state law and they may not address individual needs in the most effective manner. The same advice holds true when it comes to making changes to trust documents.

Most forms of trusts are intended to be instruments that can evolve over time and be adapted to changing circumstances. People frequently desire to change the terms of revocable trusts or support trusts as family demographics change or as assets are sold or acquired. Charitable trusts may be changed to suit a donor's changing philanthropic interests. Spendthrift trusts may be worth revising once a beneficiary has demonstrated sufficient financial responsibility. All of these types of instruments are designed to be modified to suit the settlor's needs and wishes.

Floridians should take care, however, when consideration a modification to any form of trust. Some trusts, such as irrevocable trusts, may only be amended under certain circumstances. Even those trusts that are designed to be freely modified should generally only be revised under professional guidance.

Too many amendments to a trust can make it difficult for a future trustee to interpret and execute the trust terms according to the settlor's wishes. Ambiguities or conflicts between subsequent amendments can lead to unnecessary legal disputes. An amendment that goes so far as to essentially restate the original trust may lead to questions about whether the restated trust has been effectively funded.

Florida trusts should be reviewed regularly. When changes need to be made, costly mistakes can be avoided by seeking the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney.

Source:, "ESTATE PLANNING: Trusts are not a do-it-yourself job," Christopher W. Yugo, Jan. 13, 2013

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