Q: I think that I made a mistake on my second amendment to declaration of living trust. I wrote that both my antique vehicle & car would be sold & the proceeds shall be divided equally among my then living great-grandchildren & be held in trust until each attains age 25. I am 84, have 9 great-grandchildren at this time. Ages 14, 11, 5, 4, 3, 2, 2, 6 months, and 6 months. I feel that with the small amount of funds, the work involved would not be worth it. Do you have any suggestions? Many thanks! --Bill, Elk Grove, CA
A: One of the advantages to having a revocable living trust is that you can amend it any time during your life, in case you change your mind or your circumstances change. I don't know how valuable your antique car is, but setting up nine trusts to split the proceeds nine ways seems like too much work to me too.
You could change the trust to say that the funds are held by a custodian for each great-grandchild in a CUTMA account using the CA Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. You would need to designate the Custodian you want to serve, and state that the funds for each beneficiary are to be held until the beneficiary attains age 25.
Another idea is to sell the car at some point when you're ready, pay any capital gains tax on the sale, and then spend each great-grandchild's one-ninth share of the proceeds on them. This approach allows you to enjoy giving the gift to them while you are living. Then it's not in your estate at the time of your death, so the amendment becomes moot, plus you had the pleasure of making the gifts in person.
If you would like to simply un-do this gift and have your successor trustee include the antique car with the rest of your assets in your trust to your remainder beneficiaries, it may be that you could revoke the second amendment to your trust; but you need to be very careful about this and should only do it after consulting with your estate planning attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you determine how you want your assets distributed, and the best way to accomplish that.