Can an irrevocable trust be changed without the beneficiary’s knowledge?

Dear Ms. Allison: Can an irrevocable trust be changed without the beneficiary’s knowledge? My father changed how much of his estate he was to give me and some other things in his irrevocable trust after my sister died and didn’t tell me before he did it. PP in Central Oklahoma

Dear PP:

Are you certain that the trust is irrevocable? I ask because generally speaking, that would meant the trust you are referring to was not created by your father.

If, in fact, this is a revocable trust which is a common estate planning tool, he can change it anytime he wants. He can disinherit you if he wants to and changes are not related to your sister’s death.

If the trust truly is irrevocable, he would be able to change the terms of the trust upon being given a special or limited power of appointment to change the terms of the trust. In that situation, the changes usually are to take effect after he dies.

Sometimes beneficiaries learn the terms of a trust from the grantor (the person whose trust it is). However, there is no requirement to consult beneficiaries – either when establishing a trust or when making changes.

If you have further questions, you can make an appointment with a trust and estate lawyer near you. If you are involved in a dispute over this, the parties also can go to mediation. If you choose mediation, be sure to hire a mediator who is experienced in and knowledgeable about estate and trust matters.

That’s your question, Asked and Answered. My best to you,

Gale Allison

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