Irrevocable trusts often leave the trustee with limited flexibility to address unanticipated beneficiary circumstances, investment challenges, or outdated administrative provisions. Thankfully, there are techniques for improving what seems a hopeless situation, including amendment powers, agreements among interested persons, and decanting. The availability of these techniques depends upon the jurisdiction whose laws govern the trust. Here we compare options under New York and Delaware law.

Power to Amend

 The starting point for any trust modification is the governing instrument. While older trusts rarely include a power to amend, it is increasingly common for modern trusts to grant the trustee or another powerholder the ability to modify an irrevocable trust.

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