How to Transfer a Vanguard Account to a Living Trust

by John Stevens J.D.
Investment accounts held in trust allow the proceeds to pass to the trust beneficiaries.

Investment accounts held in trust allow the proceeds to pass to the trust beneficiaries.

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Transferring property to a living trust is an important step in setting up the trust. Investment accounts, such as those offered by Vanguard, allow an investor to list a beneficiary who will receive the proceeds of the account upon the account holder’s death. Problems arise, however, if the beneficiary dies before the account holder. It is for this reason that transferring these types of accounts to your trust is prudent financial planning.

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Step 1

List the Vanguard account number in the trust’s schedule of assets. The schedule of assets is typically the last page of the trust document and lists the assets held in trust. For example, you might include language such as “Vanguard account number 123456” in the schedule of assets.

Step 2

Determine the exact name of your living trust by looking at the trust document. It is important to include the full name of the trust, which is usually located on the first page of the document. Some trusts include the date the trust was executed in the title. For example, the name of a trust might be “The Jane L. Smith Living Trust, dated January 23, 2012.” Some attorneys include the abbreviation “UTD” in the trust name, followed by the date the trust was executed. “UTD” stands for “under trust dated.”

Step 3

Direct your Vanguard account representative to change title to the account to the exact name of the living trust and to reflect that you own the account in your capacity as trustee. For example, title to the account might read: “Jane L. Smith, trustee of the Jane L. Smith Living Trust, dated January 23, 2012.”

Step 4

Staple the new schedule of assets page to the back of the trust document.