How to Terminate an Irrevocable Trust in Massachusetts
Original post by Stephanie Ellen of Demand Media
An irrevocable trust is created when you transfer your assets or property to a trustee and relinquish control of them. Irrevocable trusts come with significant tax and estate-planning benefits, but unlike revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts generally can't be modified or canceled by you, the trust creator. If unforeseen circumstances mean that you need to terminate your irrevocable trust, there are some conditions that allow for termination or dismissal. In Massachusetts, trusts are treated as business entities; the trust's operation and existence are controlled by the terms of the contract.
Read the trust documentation and look for a termination clause. Most irrevocable trusts contain a clause to terminate the trust under certain conditions. For example, you may be able to terminate the trust if assets fall under a certain threshold and maintaining the trust becomes too expensive to maintain when compared to the assets. If you meet the conditions in the termination clause, you'll be able to terminate the trust.
Check that all of the information in the trust document is true and accurate. If a mistake was made in the contract, this could be a reason why a judge will terminate the trust. For example, make sure the beneficiaries are listed correctly.
Talk to the trust's beneficiaries and the trustee -- listed in the trust document -- and get everyone's permission to terminate the trust. If everyone agrees, you can terminate the trust even if there isn't a termination clause.
Contact a probate or estate planning attorney if you think there was fraud, duress or undue influence present when the trust was set up. You may also be able to terminate the trust if it becomes impractical or illegal to continue running the trust. For example, if you created a testamentary trust to support your children and over time the trust decreases in value so support can't be provided as intended, this could be a reason why a court will allow you to terminate the trust.
Tips & Warnings
- If the beneficiaries are minors, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent their interests.
- Wicked Local Burlington; Irrevocable Trusts May Not Protect Assets; Ronald H. Surabian; July 2009
- FindLaw: What About Irrevocable Trusts? How Do They End?
- Lawyers.com: Modifying or Terminating a Trust
- Justia: 2009 Massachusetts Code
- Cushing and Dolan; Irrevocable Trusts - Not as Frightening as You Might Think!; Todd E. Lutsky
- US Legal: Massachusetts Trust Law & Legal Definition
About the Author
Stephanie Ellen teaches mathematics and statistics at the university and college level. She coauthored a statistics textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in health science from State University New York, a master's degree in math education from Jacksonville University and a Master of Arts in creative writing from National University.