If a person has a trust setup in California then moves to Alaska and decides they don’t like the way the trust is can that person move the money out of the trust and write a new will on the dispersement of that money?

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If a person has a trust setup in California then moves to Alaska and decides they don’t like the way the trust is can that person move the money out of the trust and write a new will on the dispersement of that money?

My mother in law had a trust setup in California with her husband who has been deceased for 5 years now. She got sick with COPD so we had her move to Alaska so we could take care of her. She decided that she didn’t like how the trust was setup and wanted the money dispersed differently along with a new executor to her money. So she wrote up a new will and had it notarized and moved the money to a different account with a new executor. Is this legal?

Asked on May 5, 2018 under Estate Planning, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Was the trust already in existence? (Not only planned, but already operating?) That is, was it what is called a "living" or "inter vivos" trust? If it was, she could only undo the trust and move money from it if it was a revocable trust--that is, stated to be in the papers/documents creating it to be a trust which she could change or revoke. If it was an irrevocable trust, then as the term "irrevocable" means, she *cannot* change or undo it, or take money and property from it. If it was a revocable trust, however, then she could have moved money from it, changed it, replaced it with another trust, etc. She would have to do so by both terminating or ending the existing trust and executing (signing) documents creating the new trust.
If the trust was not an already-in-place one but rather is one that only came into existence and was funded after your mother-in-law passed away--that is a trust created by a will, called a "testamentary" trust--then you mother-in-law could change it any time simply by creating a new will (or amending/revising her old will) to alter the trust: wills may be changed by their creators at any time, since they do not take effect (have any power) until death. The only requirement is that the new or amended will must be properly signed and witnessed so as to be valid as a will.


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