How to Transfer a Trust Deed to a Guardian Conservator

By Marie Murdock

When a trust dissolves due to some mitigating event, such as the death of the trust’s creator, known as the “settlor,” property must be transferred out of the trust for distribution or liquidation. Incremental distributions also may be made while the trust is in effect pursuant to the terms of the trust agreement. Upon termination or other distribution, one or more of the beneficiaries entitled to receive property from the trust may be a minor or legally incompetent and will require a guardian and/or conservator.

When a trust dissolves due to some mitigating event, such as the death of the trust’s creator, known as the “settlor,” property must be transferred out of the trust for distribution or liquidation. Incremental distributions also may be made while the trust is in effect pursuant to the terms of the trust agreement. Upon termination or other distribution, one or more of the beneficiaries entitled to receive property from the trust may be a minor or legally incompetent and will require a guardian and/or conservator.

Step 1

Determine if the guardian or conservator has authority to act on behalf of the minor or incompetent person. Court-granted authority generally results from filing documents known as “letters of guardianship” or “letters of conservatorship.” The term “guardian” normally refers to a custodian of the person, while “conservator” refers to a custodian of property or assets. One person is often appointed to both roles. Seek the advice of an attorney when determining if the guardian/conservator is legally authorized to acquire and hold property on behalf of the beneficiary.

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Step 2

Execute a deed to the guardian or conservator in your capacity as trustee or successor trustee under the trust agreement on behalf of the minor or incompetent individual. In most states, the deed should recite the name and date of the trust, describe the property being conveyed, state the full name of the conservator as it appears on the legal documents, and indicate he is acquiring the property solely in his capacity as conservator for the named minor or incompetent person. A notary public should notarize your signature as trustee or successor trustee. It is usually advisable to hire an attorney who is familiar with trust and real estate law in your state to prepare the deed for you.

Step 3

Deliver the deed to the guardian/conservator and instruct him to record the deed in the real property records of the county where the property is located. Delivery, or acquisition of the deed by the grantee acquiring the property, is an important part of a real estate transaction, and title to property may not pass until delivery is effected. If a trustee was appointed for the purpose of holding a deed in trust for the benefit of a minor or incompetent person until some qualifying event, such as the death of the grantor, then most states will consider delivery accomplished at the time the trustee acquires the deed to hold on behalf of the grantee. When the qualifying event occurs, the trustee gives or transfers the original deed to the court-appointed guardian or conservator. Recording the deed in the county records perfects the transfer and puts the public on notice as to the change of property ownership.

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Can a Trustee Be a Guardian?

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