There are many elements involved in estate planning. An irrevocable living trust can be used to protect assets; however, both positive and negative aspects must be considered.

If you have questions about creating or modifying an irrevocable trust in North Carolina, contact Charlotte Estate Planning at 704-766-8836 or use our online contact form to reach out for a consultation.

What Is an Irrevocable Living Trust?

An irrevocable living trust is a legal tool that involves transferring ownership of assets to a trust for the benefit of someone else (the beneficiary). The key thing to remember is that it’s irrevocable, meaning once you put assets in, you generally can’t take them back.

Irrevocable vs. Revocable Trusts

Both revocable and irrevocable trusts are used in estate planning, but they differ in terms of control, tax benefits, and ease of modification. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences when considering establishing a trust in NC:


With a revocable trust (also called a “living trust”), you retain complete control over the assets in the trust. You can freely add, remove, or change the assets and beneficiaries throughout your lifetime.

By contrast, once you transfer assets to an irrevocable trust, you generally give up control. You cannot take them back or make changes to the trust without the beneficiary’s consent (or a court order).

Tax Benefits

Assets in a revocable trust are still considered part of your estate for tax purposes. They won’t help reduce your estate tax burden. However, assets placed in an irrevocable trust are generally removed from your taxable estate, potentially reducing your estate tax liability.


Revocable trusts are very easy to modify. You can change the terms of the trust at any time during your lifetime. Irrevocable trusts are difficult or impossible to modify. Change requires the beneficiary’s consent and court approval to make changes.

How Do Irrevocable Trusts Work?

An irrevocable trust begins with the person who creates the trust (the grantor) transferring assets to it. A person (the trustee) is appointed to manage the trust’s assets according to the grantor’s instructions. The person who receives the benefit of the trust’s assets is the beneficiary.

Benefits of Irrevocable Living Trusts in NC

There are several reasons why an irrevocable living trust might be right for you. Some benefits of an irrevocable trust in North Carolina include:

  • Reduce estate taxes: Assets placed in an irrevocable trust are generally removed from your taxable estate, which can potentially reduce your estate tax burden.
  • Protect assets: Irrevocable trusts can shield assets from creditors or lawsuits. Thus, irrevocable trusts can be used for asset protection.
  • Manage distributions: You can set up specific guidelines for how and when the trust assets are distributed to the beneficiary.
  • Qualify for benefits: In some cases, irrevocable trusts can help you qualify for certain government benefits, such as Medicaid.

Is an Irrevocable Living Trust Right for You?

When considering if an irrevocable trust is right for you, you must evaluate many factors, including how you want your assets distributed, the value of your assets, and other considerations.

Some things to keep in mind about irrevocable trust estate planning in NC include potential loss of control, tax implications, and complexities of setting it up and managing the trust.

Loss of Control

Once you transfer assets to an irrevocable trust, you generally give up control of them. You can’t take them back or change the terms of the trust without the beneficiary’s consent (or a court order).

Tax Implications

There may be tax consequences associated with creating or funding an irrevocable trust. It’s important to consult with a tax advisor to understand how it might impact you.

Complexities of Irrevocable Trusts

Irrevocable trusts can be complex legal documents. Having an attorney help you draft the trust agreement to ensure it meets your needs is important.

How to Set up an Irrevocable Living Trust in North Carolina

Because irrevocable trusts are so complex, it’s best to consult with an estate planning attorney to set up your trust. However, there are some universal steps that you will take to create an irrevocable trust.

  1. Assets: Identify the assets you want to transfer to the trust. This could include things like real estate, investment accounts, or cash.
  2. Beneficiaries: Decide who will benefit from the trust. This could be children, grandchildren, other family members, or even charities.
  3. Trust Terms: Your irrevocable trust attorney will draft the trust document outlining the trust’s terms, such as how the assets will be managed, distributed to the beneficiaries, and when they receive them.
  4. Funding the Trust: Transfer ownership of the designated assets to the trust according to your attorney’s instructions.
  5. Tax Considerations: Your estate planning attorney will advise you on any potential tax implications associated with creating and funding the irrevocable trust.

Can You Modify an Irrevocable Living Trust?

Irrevocable trusts are designed to be difficult to change, but it’s not entirely impossible. There are some limited ways that an irrevocable trust may be modified.

Trust Protector

In some cases, the trust document itself can allow for modifications by designating an independent person called a trust protector. This person has the authority to make certain changes within the parameters outlined in the trust agreement.

Beneficiary Consent

If all the beneficiaries agree to the changes, you may be able to modify the trust. This is because the beneficiaries are the ones who ultimately benefit from the trust, so their consent essentially removes the irrevocable aspect of this particular modification.


This is a legal process where the assets from the original irrevocable trust are distributed into a new, modifiable trust. This allows for more flexibility in managing the assets while still fulfilling the original intent of the grantor (the person who created the trust).

Court Modification

A court can modify an irrevocable living trust under certain circumstances, but it’s a complex and expensive process. The court will typically only consider modifications if there’s a compelling reason, such as unforeseen circumstances that make the original terms impractical or harmful to the beneficiaries.

Consult an Irrevocable Living Trust Lawyer in NC For Help

If you have questions about creating or modifying an irrevocable trust in North Carolina, the experienced attorneys at Charlotte Estate Planning can help. We understand the complex trust laws in North Carolina, and we can ensure your legal documents are drafted properly to carry out your needs.

Call us today at 704-766-8836 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.