Building flexibility into a trust

March 7, 2008

I've set up an irrevocable trust at my bank and the assets will go to my two children after I die. But I'm worried that once I'm gone, the trust may become less effective if estate and tax laws change or the bank trustee does a lousy job. How can I prevent those possibilities?

I've set up an irrevocable trust at my bank and the assets will go to my two children after I die. But I'm worried that once I'm gone, the trust may become less effective if estate and tax laws change or the bank trustee does a lousy job. How can I prevent those possibilities?

Consider appointing a trust protector, perhaps a knowledgeable estate-planning attorney. You could grant him or her the authority to amend the trust to reflect changes in the law and minimize the taxes your beneficiaries would owe. You can also provide a list of performance parameters that you want the trustee to meet and give the protector the right to replace the current trustee if he or she falls short of them. Keep in mind, though, that appointing a trust protector will add another layer of complexity and fees. And to avoid unintended consequences it's critical to clearly spell out the powers-and limitations-you're bestowing on him.