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When Does a Revocable Living Trust Become Irrevocable?

August 9, 2019 by in Trusts

A revocable living trust—so called because the creator (grantor) of the trust is still alive and the trust can be modified during his/her lifetime. Assets within the trust can be sold, and new assets can be added. Further, while the grantor has capacity, the terms of the trust can be changed.

Once a trust becomes irrevocable, however, the terms are generally no longer changeable. In most cases, a living trust becomes irrevocable upon the grantor’s passing. An estate planning attorney can help you create the right trust.

Whether a charitable lead annuity trust, a generation-skipping trust or a revocable living trust, the legal team at Silverman Schermer will review your financial situation, assets, and potential risks to determine the most effective strategy for your estate planning needs.

Revocable Living Trusts Explained

There are three key roles involved in a revocable living trust—the grantor, the trustee(s), and the beneficiaries. The grantor creates the trust, the trustee manages the assets within the trust, and the beneficiaries profit from the trust. A living trust requires at least one trustee. If the trustee and the grantor are the same people (which is often the case), there will need to be at least one successor trustee who will take over upon the grantor’s passing.


The trustee’s main responsibility is to manage/administer the trust according to the grantor’s wishes and all relevant laws. The trustee may be required to make financial investments that will grow the value of the assets within the trust. He/she must also keep accurate records and ensure that all taxes are paid.


The grantor may be the sole beneficiary of the trust’s income during his/her lifetime, but a designated spouse, children, charities, or other named individuals will become beneficiaries when the grantor dies. At that point, generally, the trust becomes unchangeable – “irrevocable”. Notwithstanding the preceding, the team at Silverman Schermer has experience using laws that enable the modification of “irrevocable” trusts when appropriate under a process called “decanting”. Decanting will be the subject of further blog posts.

In some cases, individuals choose to set up an irrevocable trust before their passing. Although this means that the terms are set in stone and even the grantor cannot make changes, irrevocable trusts typically have greater tax protections. Individuals with significant wealth may opt to go this route in order to reduce or avoid gift and estate taxes. Irrevocable trusts may also be a better option if you wish to protect assets from creditors or lawsuits, or to ensure future care for a loved one with disabilities.


Inappropriate circumstances, revocable living trusts have many advantages over simply using a Last Will and Testament. In particular, administered properly, the assets in a revocable living trust will avoid costly and time-consuming probate administration. Revocable living trusts are also great tools for incapacity planning as the grantor is able to appoint Trustees that will administer the trust assets when the grantor is unable to do so.

Contact Silverman Schermer Today

If you are wondering what type of estate plan is best for your unique financial situation, the legal team at Silverman Schermer can help. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you determine the best strategy for your financial goals. Contact us today at 954-314-4000 for a consultation.

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