MCLE ARTICLE: WINE NOT? THE NEW CALIFORNIA TRUST DECANTING ACT
By Jenny Hill Bratt, Esq.* and Catherine M. Swafford, Esq.**
Most wine aficionados are familiar with the term “decanting.” In wine parlance the term refers to the process of transferring the contents of a bottle of wine to a decanter before pouring a glass of wine from the decanter. The purpose is to separate the wine from the sediment and residue in the bottle.
The concept is similar in estate planning. An irrevocable trust is decanted by distributing the assets from one trust with non-preferable and likely outdated terms to another trust or trusts with new, improved, and preferable terms. Like wine decanting, the trust distribution process allows the trustee to leave the unwanted trust terms behind.
On September 14, 2018, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 909, the California Uniform Trust Decanting Act (“Decanting Act”). The Decanting Act is effective January 1, 2019, and is located in Probate Code sections 19501 et seq. The Decanting Act is based on the Uniform Trust Decanting Act, which was drafted and approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws to create a uniform decanting procedure.