Decanting is Not Just for Sommeliers

Estate Planning Studies, July 2014

8 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2014

See all articles by Gerry W. Beyer

Gerry W. Beyer

Texas Tech University School of Law

Melissa Willms

Davis & Willms, PLLC

Date Written: July 2014


One of the hottest issues in modern trust law is decanting. The term “decanting” sounds mysterious, but in reality, decanting is simply a form of trust modification initiated by a trustee.

The trustee accomplishes the modification by moving assets from one trust to a new trust with different terms. Estate planning attorneys draft trusts designed to last for generations based on assumptions about the beneficiaries which may bear no semblance to reality. Decanting then stems from the desire to make changes to an otherwise irrevocable trust. Decanting occurs when a trustee, exercising discretionary authority to distribute trust property to or for the benefit of trust beneficiaries, distributes assets from one trust to another.

This article provides a “short course” on decanting by covering:

• Decanting’s historical background, • Reasons to decant, • Decanting’s interface with fiduciary duties, and • State decanting statutes.

Keywords: decanting, trusts, estate planning

JEL Classification: K11

Suggested Citation

Beyer, Gerry W. and Willms, Melissa, Decanting is Not Just for Sommeliers (July 2014). Estate Planning Studies, July 2014, Available at SSRN:

Gerry W. Beyer (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University School of Law ( email )

3311 18th Street
Lubbock, TX 79409-0004
United States
806-834-4270 (Phone)
978-285-7941 (Fax)


Melissa Willms

Davis & Willms, PLLC ( email )

3555 Timmons Lane
Suite 1250
Houston, TX 77027
United States
(281) 786-4503 (Phone)
(281) 742-2600 (Fax)


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