How to Transfer Title to Revocable Trust

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

How to Transfer Title to Revocable Trust

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Establishing a revocable trust is fairly common these days. Part of the reason why revocable trusts are so attractive is because any assets held in trust bypass the state probate process. These assets are distributed directly to the designated beneficiary upon the death of the trust's creator. By contrast, any assets that are not in a trust must go through the probate process. Thus, if you want to avoid the probate process, you must transfer title of your assets into a trust account.

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Revocable Trusts

A trust is a legal entity that can own certain property. A trust's creator, called the grantor, can transfer title of certain assets to the trust that will eventually be distributed according to the trust agreement. The grantor designates a trustee to manage the trust on behalf of the beneficiary—the person who eventually receives the contents of the trust. The grantor and trustee are typically the same person until the grantor dies, then the successor trustee manages the trust. Revocable trusts allow the grantor to modify or cancel the trust while they are still living.

Once a trust is created, the grantor can transfer almost any type of asset into the trust account. These assets can include:

  • Real estate
  • Ownership in a business
  • Stocks, bonds, or mutual funds
  • Bank accounts
  • Personal property, such as jewelry, furniture, or works of art
  • Cars
  • Money

How to Transfer Title to a Revocable Trust

The grantor must go through certain formal steps in order to legally transfer ownership of their assets into the trust. These requirements vary depending on the type of asset. It is important to follow the specific procedures. If not transferred properly, the assets will not be a part of the trust and will not be distributed according to its terms.

Real Property

To transfer real estate into a trust, the grantor must legally transfer title by following these steps:

  1. Locate the original deed granting title to the grantor.
  2. Legally amend the deed from the grantor's name to the name of the trust in front of a notary public.
  3. Record the change with the local Recorder of Deeds or its equivalent.

Vehicles

To transfer title on an automobile, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the original title granting ownership to the grantor.
  2. Legally amend the title from the grantor's name to the name of the trust.

The grantor should first check with their insurance company to ensure that title transfer will not impact their policy.

Untitled and Intangible Property

Certain property that is not registered or titled can still be transferred into a trust. To do this, the grantor must simply list such property in the trust agreement itself with a brief description. If the grantor ever wants to add, remove, or modify these types of assets, they should do so in writing in front of a notary public.

For intangible property, such as an interest in a business or partnership, the grantor may need to amend the business's operating agreement and state registration documents to reflect the change in ownership. Similarly, the name on a bank account being transferred needs to be changed to that of the trustee.

Mortgages and Other Liens

There are specific requirements that apply when the grantor wants to transfer title on property that is mortgaged or has some other encumbrance on it. Because the property is not fully owned by the grantor, they may be required to obtain consent from the third-party lender before transferring title to the trust.

While there are some restrictions, almost any type of asset can be transferred into a trust. Most title transfers only involve amending the original document to change the name from the grantor to the trust. It's important to follow these steps to transfer title to the revocable trust, otherwise the beneficiaries of your trust could end up going through the probate process.

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.