How to Add Assets to a Living Trust

By Christine Funk, J.D.

How to Add Assets to a Living Trust

By Christine Funk, J.D.

Creating a revocable living trust is a really great way to pass your assets on to your loved ones while avoiding the delay and stress of probate court, as one would have if they passed away with or without a will to deal with their assets. The way you add assets varies depending on the type of asset you are transferring. The four categories of types of property that you may transfer into a revocable living trust are real property, tangible personal property, financial instruments, and cash accounts.

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If you create the documents required for a living trust but fail to add any assets, it may not be legally valid. Funding the trust is an essential part of the process.

Scheduling and Adding Assets to a Living Trust

A schedule of assets is a page included in the documents that list the assets you put into the trust. This document is a starting point for determining what property is and is not considered part of the assets in the trust. However, if you do not follow the proper procedures in completing these documents, the court may make a determination inconsistent with your wishes after you pass away. As such, properly documenting and funding the trust is essential.

As mentioned, the way you transfer assets depends on the type of asset you are transferring. Each type of asset has a slightly different process when going through the transferring process.

Real Property

Real property includes your home, your vacation home, rental properties you own, and other real estate. To add real property to a living trust, you must transfer ownership from yourself to the trustee, whom you can designate as yourself in your documents.

That means you must revise the deed so that it no longer reads "Darlene Gilbert" but rather "Darlene Gilbert, Trustee for the Gilbert Living Trust." You must properly execute and file this deed in accordance with the laws of the state where the property is located.

Tangible Personal Property

Tangible personal property includes your car, boat, jet skis, furniture, jewelry, art, antiques, gun collection, and other personal property. You may be able to change the title on your car or boat from your personal ownership to trust ownership, depending on where you live.

However, things such as art, antiques, collections and the like do not have title to transfer. Instead, title is transferred to the trust by creating a written inventory of the goods as part of the schedule of assets as discussed above.

Financial Instruments

Financial instruments include stocks and bonds of both publicly traded corporations and private companies. You must change these documents to reflect their movement to the trust in accordance with either the rules of the brokerage account that manages the stocks or the individual organization. Notarization is commonly a part of this process.

Cash Accounts

Cash accounts include checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts. Different banks have different procedures for accomplishing this. Some banks may allow a simple change to the documents indicating ownership of the accounts, while others may require closing the current accounts and opening new accounts listing the trustees of the trust as the account holders.

The main point of creating a living trust is to make it easier for your beneficiaries to receive your assets upon your death. So you'll want to ensure you are following your state's laws and adhering to any requirements so the trust doesn't end up being deemed invalid.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.