How Can I Change Title to Property in a Living Trust?

By Joe Stone

If you are the trustee of a living trust, you are responsible for managing the trust property and can change title to the property as necessary. The steps required to change title depend on the type of property involved. If you are named successor trustee and the trustee has died or is no longer able to carry out his duties, title to the trust property must be changed from the trustee's name to your name as successor trustee.

Living Trust Document

Changing title to property in a living trust requires understanding the document that was used to create the trust, called a declaration of trust or trust agreement. The document is typically prepared by a lawyer and signed by the person creating the living trust, referred to as the trustor or settlor. In most cases, the trustor is also named as trustee and is responsible for funding the trust by transferring property from the trustor's name into the living trust. For example, property held in the trustor's own name -- John Smith – would be changed to "John Smith, trustee of the Smith Family Trust." The trust document also names the successor trustee.

Real Estate Title Change

Property held in a living trust usually includes a family residence and other real estate. Changing title to real estate may be necessary if it is sold or when the trustor, who is also the trustee, passes away. The title change is accomplished in the same manner as all real estate title changes – by preparing the appropriate document and recording it with the local government recording office. For example, real estate sold in Texas requires the use of a warranty deed, which is filed with the county clerk's office. In California, the passing of the trustee requires that title to real estate be transferred from the trustee's name to the successor trustee's name using an "Affidavit of Death of Trustee," which is recorded with the County Recorder's office.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More

Personal Property Title Change

Personal property held in a living trust commonly includes accounts with financial institutions for checking and savings, stocks, mutual funds or retirement funds. Although title to such property is in the name of the trustee, the property is in the possession of a custodian, such as a bank or credit union. Changing title to this property requires providing the custodian with a "certification of trust" as proof that the person requesting the title change has the authority to do so. Each state has its own trust law that specifies the information that must be included in a properly constructed certification. Most financial institutions prepare a form of certification for use by their clientèle that complies with state law.

Miscellaneous Personal Property

A trust document usually includes a general statement that the trustor places all his miscellaneous property, such as personal effects, household furniture and furnishings, into his living trust. This type of property usually does not have any title documents associated with it, and it is not held by a custodian but kept by the trustor at his residence or otherwise under his control. The trustor has the right to manage this property as he sees fit. The successor trustee acquires title to this property when the trustor dies.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More
Transferring Property From a Living Trust to a Successor Trustee
 

References

Resources

Related articles

Is a Living Trust Liable or Subject to Probate?

A living trust holds assets that are managed by a trustee for intended beneficiaries. Also called a revocable trust, it differs from other trusts in that the trust creator, or grantor, can also serve as the trustee and can make changes to, or even revoke, the trust in its entirety during his lifetime. Living trusts are attractive because the grantor retains ultimate control over his assets while he is alive, but they are most commonly used to avoid probate.

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.

What Are the Rules for Changing a Living Trust After a Spouse Dies?

A living trust is a legal vehicle you can use to transfer property upon your death that avoids probate. If you and your spouse create a living trust together, you need your spouse's permission to change trust terms. After your spouse dies, you can only change the part of the trust that relates to your property.

Doing the right thing has never been easier. Name Change

Related articles

How to Remove a Trustee From a Deed

When property is held in a trust estate, the appointed trustee generally holds title as representative of the trust for ...

Death of a Trustee & a Name Change on a Title

The death of a trustee under a living trust means the successor trustee, also named in the living trust, assumes the ...

How to Remove a Vehicle From a Family Trust

A family trust is a popular device used to ensure that a family’s assets are protected from creditors and property kept ...

How to Create a Living Trust Template

Probate is often a lengthy and expensive process that leaves property and beneficiaries up in the air while the will ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED