Estate Planning: Irrevocable vs. Revocable

While there are a lot of benefits to creating trusts, there is often a question about an irrevocable trust and if the need or desire to make changes could come up in the future. Knowing under what circumstances changes can be made when the trust is irrevocable and how it protects people and property is often helpful in deciding to create an irrevocable trust.

A Revocable trust still allows you to convey the property to beneficiaries of the trust but allows you to keep making changes as needed. So, which type of trust best fits your needs has a lot to do with how you want to manage your assets and your estate as you move forward in life. People go through lots of changes in life including financial and family changes and those may have both good and bad consequences to your estate plan. 

Irrevocable Trusts and things to consider:

  • It ensures assets will go to the person or organization you intend and no one is able to use undue influence to get you to change your mind later.
  • An irrevocable trust creates a secure way to avoid certain taxes and probate.
  • An irrevocable trust keeps changes from happening in case of Alzheimer’s or dementia that may allow someone to take advantage of a person before a full diagnosis or treatment.
  • It allows the family to feel secure that someone did not take advantage of a surviving spouse to change a trust.

Cons to make an irrevocable trust:

  • You cannot easily make changes to the trust.
  • If you at some point change your mind about who you want to act as trustee, you must go through a court process.
  • If you decide to make changes after creating and funding the trust, you must go through a court process where all beneficiaries are involved.
  • Will there be more children born that you will want to include in the trust, or what happens if someone passes away, your set up of the trust should include how you would want the trust to react to such an event. So, time and thought should be given to all possible events, including the death of someone in a younger generation, such as a child or grandchild and planning for what happens then.

Pros to a revocable trust:

  • You have the ability to make any changes you deem necessary, at any time you wish.
  • If more children are born or someone passes away unexpectedly, then you are able to adjust the trust accordingly.

Cons to make a revocable trust:

  • It does not help to avoid certain taxes
  • It can leave a door open for someone to cause changes after illnesses that affect the mind where you would not normally have chosen to remove a beneficiary
  • It allows a surviving spouse to change a trust and potentially disinherit the deceased spouse’s desired beneficiaries   


While there are a lot of things to consider in creating an estate plan and trust for your family and situation, making a good decision starts with learning more about the options you have. We offer a monthly seminar that is free to attend in order to assist you in this process. Click here and get more information and to sign up for our next seminar. It is important to remember that you should always consider all your options and make decisions based on your individual needs and concerns. We are happy to set up an appointment to help you complete a trust that meets your particular situation.


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James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm
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