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Amending Irrevocable Trusts in New York: Why Decanting Might be the Best Solution

(471 reviews)

Produced on September 14, 2016

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Course Information

Time 51m
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Wills, Trusts, & Estates

Course Description

As a general rule, irrevocable trusts cannot be changed, but, notwithstanding that rule, changes to outside circumstances, beneficiaries, and laws, including property and tax laws, or errors in trust drafting, may force a trustee to consider trust modification. Traditional methods such as reformation or construction may offer a remedy, but trust decanting has emerged as one of the best modern solutions. In this course, attorney Joe La Ferlita details the history, philosophical underpinnings and uses of decanting, and the statutory obligations and requirements of New York’s current decanting statute.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the issues, including: irrevocable trusts and the basics about decanting, the problems with irrevocable trusts and how decanting helps solve those issues, and real-life examples
  2. Recognize the traditional solutions, including: reformation, modification, and construction
  3. Identify alternative solutions, including: splitting up a trust into multiple trusts, modification, and premature termination, as well as the grantor’s intent and how the Claflin Doctrine and Equitable Deviation impact an irrevocable trust
  4. Discuss decanting, perhaps the best solution, including New York’s statute (the nation’s first decanting statute enacted in 1992), the legislative intent and how the IRS impacted the statute, as well as what the trends are saying
  5. Break down New York’s current decanting statute, EPTL 10-6.6
  6. Grasp the rules applicable when trustees do and do not have unlimited discretion, as well as select rules that are applicable regardless of trustee discretion
  7. Address the tax consequences of decanting, namely the EPTL tax implications
  8. Propose recommendations concerning income tax, estate and gift tax, and GSTT tax

Credit Information

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Joseph T. La Ferlita

Farrell Fritz, P.C.

Joseph T. La Ferlita focuses his practice on estate planning and the administration of estates and trusts. Joseph counsels individuals planning their estates, beneficiaries, corporate and noncorporate fiduciaries, and not-for-profit entities (including private foundations and public charities) on a multitude of tax and property law issues. He is actively involved with the Trusts and Estates Section of the New York State Bar Association, most recently having been appointed District Representative, making him responsible for voting on proposed trusts and estates-related legislation and developing Continuing Legal Education seminars for attorneys. He also is a member of a Special Committee charged with reviewing and suggesting revisions to the proposed New York version of the Uniform Trust Code, which, if enacted, would constitute a major development in New York trust law.


Deborah A.

This presentation introduced and explained key elements of amending and decanting trusts, along with historical context. It was easy to follow and the presenter is clearly fluent in this area. He was also enthusiastic about the material which made it even more interesting. I would recommend this to colleagues.

Charles R.

Excellent presentation.


good class; practical and historical information provided

Donna J.

Excellent program and speaker.

Lawrence C.

Excellent presentation!

Perry A.

very good presentation

Gregory P.

Thank you.

Travis R.

Very technical treatment. Lots of substantive law and practical advice. Very well done.

Scott K.

Excellent presentation. Clear and concise.

David O.

A very informative program. The lecturer did a good job explaining a fairly complex area.

John V. H.

Superbly organized presentation -- explains complex concepts with great clarity

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