Can you add individuals to an irrevocable trust legally?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband had an irrevocable trust for me and my two step-children. He changed this trust to include two more of his children that were not in the original trust. Is this legal?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

If the trust your husband set up was truly an irrevocable trust, then it usually cannot be changed or canceled, unless all the beneficiaries agreed to it in a formal writing.

Since it doesn't sound as if you signed such a formal writing, your next step is to be sure that the trust was irrevocable, instead of one of the many other types of trust that may be made. An irrevocable trust should have very specific language in it, such as "The Trustor irrevocably assigns, conveys and gives to the Trustee, in trust, the following property . . ." and "This trust shall be irrevocable and unamendable."

If you are unsure about whether the trust is irrevocable, or you suspect that there has been some wrongdoing, and your husband is not forthcoming about the matter, then it may be worth your time and money to consult an attorney about that very narrow issue. Be sure that anyone you consult is not only familiar with estate planning, but also up to date on the relevant case decisions in your state.