Trust Amendments and Modifications

When interpreting trusts, the intent of the settlor when the trust was created governs, and subsequent modifications are effective only in the manner expressed in the trust instrument. Banks v. Central Trust and Inv. Co., 388 S.W.3d 173, 176 (Mo. Ct. App. 2012). Generally, the settlor can modify the trust only in the manner provided by the trust. 176-77. This requirement exists for an important reason: it protects the integrity of the trust by guarding against illegitimate amendments. Estate of Meyer v. Presely, 469 S.W.3d 857, 863 (Mo. Ct. App. 2015).

What happens if the trust does not articulate a procedure for amendments? In that case, an amendment may be effectuated “by any other method manifesting clear and convincing evidence of the settlor’s intent, including the terms of a later duly probated will or codicil that identify the trust being revoked or the trust terms being amended.” Section 456.6-602.3, RSMo.

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