My revocable trust is complete. However, I would like to make a small change, involving a cash amount that I will be leaving for a relative. Can I change it myself and have it notarized? Attorney are $300-$500 and I am unemployed at this time. If I cannot do this myself, what is the best way that will not cost me very much?
A: I can understand why you would not want to spend money for such a minor change. You are not required by law to have amendments to your trust prepared with the assistance of an attorney.
However, if you are considering any major changes, your trust document is of sufficient importance to consult with a qualified attorney to ensure that it is done properly. Also, for some amendments, it may be beneficial to have an attorney's assistance, especially if you are excluding an individual who would otherwise be your heir, or if you are reducing a gift significantly. The attorney can act as a witness should there be any challenges to the amendment after your death.
To create the amendment, you should title it. For example, it would be the "First Amendment to the Mary Smith Trust dated January 1, 2011." Then, make reference to the paragraph you are amending. If the gift to the relative is in paragraph FOURTH, you could say, "I amend Paragraph FOURTH of my Trust to read as follows: I give the sum of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) to my niece, Sue Smith."
You should then confirm that you are not changing any other portion of your Trust by saying, "In all other respects, I confirm the terms of the Mary Smith Trust dated January 1, 2011." You would want to have a date line and a signature line with your name underneath. The document could then be signed before a notary public, who can provide you with a current notary acknowledgment form to attach.
Be sure to maintain the original of the amendment with your original trust so that your successor trustee is aware of its existence.