In Washington and other states, the administrator of an estate trust has a fair amount of power. Sometimes, such power can result in improperly administrated trust documents. However, in most cases, estate administrators want to do what is right for decedents and their beneficiaries.
Unfortunately, administrators can only work within the provisions outlined in the legal documents of an estate plan. When a trust is ineffective, a trustee may have trouble carrying out their estate administration duties. Washington state has a statute that allows an estate administrator to decant the contents of a trust.
What does it mean to decant a trust?
The concept is simple. Just as you may decant a bottle of wine into a different vessel, an administrator or trustee may decant a trust into one or more different trusts.
Why would you need to decant a trust?
There are many reasons to consider decanting. Some of these reasons include:
- To clarify a trust with unclear terms or drafting errors.
- To protect assets in the trust from creditors.
- To improve the ability to disburse assets to beneficiaries.
- To fund other trusts on behalf of heirs and beneficiaries. For example, moving funds into a special needs trust for heirs with a disability.
- To appoint a different trustee or administrator.
Decanting the contents of a trust requires a serious approach. It is wise to acquire a legal opinion before deciding what steps you should take. Consulting with a law professional helps estate administrators or trustees determine if decanting is necessary. Having an advocate guide you through this and other estate administration issues ensures that any changes you wish to make will benefit the estate’s beneficiaries.