Hello, my name is Jason Lile, and I am a Tulsa attorney here in northeastern Oklahoma that does estate planning. And I have a question that’s often asked to me that I’d like to go over, which is, if you make a living replicable trust, and if you don’t know what one of those is, check out our other videos, we’ve explained a lot about that.
But if you do make a living replicable trust, and you die, people ask me, can that be changed? Because they’re obviously doing that in the first place to make sure that their wishes are effectuated. But the concern is if somebody could change that after you die, then why do it? So here’s the answer to that question.
Are Life Revocable Trusts Changeable After Death?
No. People are not supposed to change living replicable trusts when they die. By operation of the body of the trust, as in when I draft the trust, there’s literally a provision in there that says, when the trustee, or the grantor we call them, which is the person who authorized the trust, whose behalf it’s authorized, when they die, a replicable trust, which is one that they could have revoked in their lifetime, becomes irrevocable. And that means it is exactly as it was on the day that they died, and it cannot be revoked.
Now obviously that trust names somebody who’s the successor trustee. That person is supposed to be acting as a fiduciary, which means doing something exactly like the person would have done them, or as best as I can tell, and for that person or their estate’s benefit. They can’t act in their own best interest. So given that it’s a fiduciary duty, and given that those protections that define fiduciary duties are in the law and have criminal and civil penalties for violating them, you also have a layer of protection that successor trustees should not try and alter a trust because it’s both fraud and contrary to a fiduciary duty.
Tips for Protecting Your Life Revocable Trust
The last bit is just some practical advice. Living replicable trusts are what we call self-proving documents. And what that means is that they’re notarized. Most people know what notarized is. It’s a stamp that you get from someone who’s certified by the state that you live in to witness signatures. The second thing is that they’re witnessed. So the notarization and the witnessing, two witnesses, and a notary stamp makes a self-proving document. And what that means is, is if the courts presented evidence with a document like that, they presume, there’s a very strong presumption that document is legitimate. So we do self-proving documents for that reason, to make sure that it’s harder to change them or forge them. And the last thing is, if you get a living replicable trust, you should have copies, several copies. One of whom, or excuse me, one of which should be near where you keep other important documents. Another one should be maybe in a safe deposit box. Maybe another one that you give the actual personal representative who would be taking over as successor trustee, or you give the alternate successor trustee a copy and another family member. That way there are several copies to compare if you pass away and somebody needs to look at the original document and compare. They can see if it’s been altered in any way. So that is how we protect that from happening.
Contact an Oklahoma Trust Lawyer
Again, my name is Attorney Jason Lile. I am the OklahomaWillandTrust.com attorney for Northeastern Oklahoma. So you can look us up there or you can give us a call at 918-876-4500 and ask for Jason Lile, trust lawyer in Oklahoma.