How to Finalize a Living Trust

By John Stevens J.D.

Creating a living trust document is only one step in the process of creating a living trust. Think of a living trust as a vessel that holds property. Without property, a trust is not created. Thus, finalizing a living trust, sometimes referred to as “funding” the trust, requires executing the trust document and transferring assets to the trust.

Creating a living trust document is only one step in the process of creating a living trust. Think of a living trust as a vessel that holds property. Without property, a trust is not created. Thus, finalizing a living trust, sometimes referred to as “funding” the trust, requires executing the trust document and transferring assets to the trust.

Step 1

Transfer any real property you own to your living trust with a grant deed. Determine how you currently hold title to the property by looking at the most recent recorded grant deed. For example, you may currently hold title as “Jane Smith, a widow,” or as “John Smith, a married man.” Fill out a new grant deed and include the way in which you currently hold title to the property as the grantor. Name your trust as the grantee. For example, if you currently hold title as Jane Smith, a widow, list “Jane Smith, a widow” as the grantor and “The Jane Smith Living Trust” as the grantee. Sign the deed before a notary and deliver it to your land records office for recording. Grant deed forms are commonly available at office stationery stores or through an online document preparation service.

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Step 2

Change title to any savings, money market and brokerage accounts to show that you now hold these assets as the trustee of your trust. For example, the new title to a savings account might read, “John Smith, as trustee of the John Smith Living Trust.” The financial institution will provide you with the form required to change title.

Step 3

Name your trust as the beneficiary of any life insurance policies, annuities and retirement accounts. The asset holder will provide you with the necessary beneficiary designation form. List the beneficiary as “The Trustee of the Jane Smith Living Trust.” If you are married and contributed to a retirement account during the marriage, list your spouse as the primary beneficiary of the retirement account and the trust as the secondary beneficiary. Note that some institutions instead refer to a secondary beneficiary as a contingent beneficiary. If you are married, accumulated retirement earnings during the marriage and do not want to name your spouse as the primary beneficiary, contact an attorney.

Step 4

Transfer your tangible personal property, such as furniture, furnishings, tools, jewelry and other items, to your trust by creating a transfer document. Include language that you transfer the following assets to your trust, then list the assets. You may list assets individually or use very broad language. For example, broad language might read, “Jewelry, clothing, furs, tools, household furniture and furnishings, sculpture, art, china, glassware, silverware, and all other tangible articles of a personal nature belonging to me, normally kept at my place of residence or elsewhere.” Sign your name to show that you are transferring these items to your trust, then sign your name a second time, followed by the word “Trustee” to show that you, as trustee, accept these items.

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How to Void or Cancel a Living Trust

References

Related articles

The Assignment of Personal Items to Trust

A living trust is a legal entity that holds property for the benefit of someone other than the person who created the trust. The process of transferring property into a trust varies depending on the type of property. For example, transferring a house into a trust calls for a process that is different than transferring a bank account. The process of transferring personal items into a trust is a comparatively straightforward one that is accomplished with a document typically called an "assignment of personal property."

How to Record a Trust Transfer Deed

Trust Transfer Deeds are used to create revocable living trusts. These legal devices transfer property a donor owns into the trust he creates. The donor would retain control of the property, as a trustee, and is subject to all relevant obligations of that position. Many states require that any documentation involving the transfer of real estate, including trust transfer deeds, be recorded at the local recorder’s office. The recorder’s office is the centralized location for a county’s public records.

How to Fund a Living Trust With Royalties

A royalty is the right to receive financial compensation for a body of work that is used by a third party. Common examples include songs played on the radio or packaged for sale, television advertisements, and books or articles sold. If the person who holds the right to receive royalty compensation wants to pass those rights at death, it is important to make such arrangements. A living trust is a common way to do so. Transferring assets into a living trust, a process called “funding,” is necessary for the assets to pass under the terms of the trust document.

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