‘How to Bolster the “Ir” in Irrevocable’

Richard C Ausness, Sherlock Holmes and the Problem of the Dead Hand: The Modification and Termination of ‘Irrevocable’ Trusts, 28 Quinnipiac Probate Law Journal 237 (2015). Traditionally, irrevocable trusts have been, well, irrevocable. The terms of the trust are fixed and the life of the trust cannot be cut short. Whether irrevocability emanates from the trust document itself or from circumstances such as the settlor’s death or incapacity, traditional irrevocability tied the hands of those interested in modifying the trust to accommodate changes in circumstances. Irrevocability was the doctrine through which the settlor could maintain control of the trust property throughout the life of the trust. Trust law acknowledges the tension between the original intent of the settlor’s dead-hand control and the current desires of the beneficiaries. As this tension is being resolved by greater accommodation of the current beneficiaries’ desires, has the doctrine of irrevocability lost its relevance? … (more)

[Lynda Wray Black, JOTWELL, 11 March]

First posted 2016-03-11 13:24:16

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