As a partner of Gokal Law Group specializing in Trust and Probate Litigation, I am often asked, “Can an irrevocable trust be modified after my parent’s death?” An irrevocable trust might not be as immutable as you believe. The answer is yes; under certain conditions, this is a possibility.
Let’s first look at what an irrevocable trust is. There are three entities involved. The settlor is a person who puts their assets into a trust. The trustee is the person in charge of managing the trust once the settlor passes away. The beneficiary is the person who is the recipient of the trust.
Prior to the settlor’s death, he or she can amend the trust at any time.
While the name may lead you to believe otherwise, trusts can be modified after the settlor dies. These are outlined in California Probate Codes 15400-15414. Determining how to do it is laid out in California Probate Code § 15403:
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), if all beneficiaries of an irrevocable trust consent, they may petition the court for modification or termination of the trust.
(b) If the continuance of the trust is necessary to carry out a material purpose of the trust, the trust cannot be modified or terminated unless the court, in its discretion, determines that the reason for doing so under the circumstances outweighs the interest in accomplishing a material purpose of the trust. If the trust is subject to a valid restraint on the transfer of a beneficiary’s interest as provided in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 15300), the trust may not be terminated unless the court determines there is good cause to do so.
(c) If the trust provides for the disposition of principal to a class of persons described only as “heirs” or “next of kin” of the settlor, or using other words that describe the class of all persons who would take under the rules of intestacy, the court may limit the class of beneficiaries whose consent is necessary to modify or terminate a trust to the beneficiaries who are reasonably likely to take under the circumstances.
Under California law, an irrevocable trust can be changed, but the support of the court is required to do so. If you have experienced the loss of a parent and are seeking to modify their irrevocable trust, I can help. We believe everyone deserves access to the justice system, regardless of the cost. If you are concerned about the cost of your case or the hidden fees behind contacting an attorney, our no fee contingency policy is in place to keep you protected. We get paid only if you recover.
To contact a member of the Gokal Law Team, give us a call at (949) 753-9100 or contact us here to schedule your consultation – absolutely free.
Abbas Gokal, MBA, ESQ, is a partner of the Gokal Law Group, an Orange County law firm specializing in representing clients in trust litigation, and probate matters. Abbas has been recognized by Super Lawyers and Orange Coast Magazine as being among the Top 25 Rising Star attorneys in Orange County and among the Top 100 Rising Star attorneys in Southern California. He has successfully recovered millions of dollars in settlements, trial verdicts and arbitration for his clients.
Abbas is unwilling to let his clients be bullied by defense attorneys, unscrupulous trustees and fiduciaries.. He and his team prepare for trial on every case from day one. This level of preparedness and dedication sends a clear and direct message to the opposing party to present a fair and reasonable pre-trial settlement or answer to a jury at trial.
Abbas receives immeasurable personal satisfaction and success from developing close client relationships and using his talent and experience as a trial lawyer to help those who have been harmed by others. For Abbas, the key to successful client relationships comes from taking the time to keep clients informed and educated through each step of the legal process.