There are two ways to make changes to a living trust. The first is an amendment which is simply an addition to the trust, including a couple of pages saying “I change sections x, y, and z.” The second method is a restatement which replaces the living trust in its entirety. Priscilla Presley is contesting an amendment of her daughter’s living trust which changed the co-trustees of Lisa Marie’s living trust. You can think of Trustees of a living trusts as the managers, as they are the ones responsible for fulfilling the wishes outlined in the trust.
The amendment to Lisa Marie’s trust removed her mother and Barry Siegel (Lisa Marie’s former manager) as Co-Trustees and named Lisa Marie’s son and daughter to serve as Co-Trustees. Keep in mind that just because one is named as a Trustee doesn’t necessarily mean they are named as the beneficiary which is the inheriting party of the assets of the estate.
Lisa Marie’s son had passed away, so the amendment would leave her daughter as the sole Trustee. Many of the trusts that our office writes include a provision that if you change a Trustee while they are acting on behalf of your trust you must inform them in writing that they no longer have the ability to act on your behalf. If they are simply named as Successor Trustees and do not have any powers to act on your behalf until you’ve passed or become incapacitated, you can change Successor Trustee names at will without informing anyone.
However, Priscilla is claiming that the terms of Lisa Marie’s trust required notice of the change regardless of whether or not she was granted any present hours by the trust. Priscilla is also claiming that her daughter’s signature was inconsistent with previous documents, Priscilla’s name was spelled incorrectly, and the date was added to the documents days after it was drafted. The claim here is likely that Lisa Marie did not have the mental capacity to make the change or that someone else made the change on Lisa Marie’s behalf.
Priscila will bear the burden of proving the amendment is not valid. Court’s generally lean towards the intentions of the deceased person leaving Priscilla with an uphill battle.
If you have questions about a living will (or contesting one) please schedule a complimentary consultation with our office today.