Transferring Property From a Living Trust to a Successor Trustee

By Joe Stone

A successor trustee is named in a living trust as the person who will take over the trustee’s duties and fulfill provisions of the trust when the trustee dies. The transition process requires trust property to be transferred out of the trustee's name into the successor trustee's name. To do this, the successor trustee must review the trust document and prepare the necessary transfer documents for each type of property held in the trust.

Trust Document

A living trust is created by a document called a trust agreement or declaration of trust. This document is sometimes called a revocable trust or inter vivos trust. The person creating the trust document is called the settlor or trustor and is invariably named as the trustee. The trust document includes important information such as the name of the successor trustee; type of property included in the trust; duties of the successor trustee; name of trust beneficiaries; and how trust property is to be distributed to the trust beneficiaries when the settlor dies. The first step for any successor trustee is to locate the trust document and review its provisions for all of the foregoing information.

Real Property Transfers

Real property is commonly included in a living trust, such as the family residence, and must be transferred when the settlor passes away. For example, real property held in the trust is titled in the trustee's name as "John Smith, Trustee of the Smith Family Trust dated 2/1/2006." To transfer property to the name of the successor trustee, a form called "Affidavit of Death of Trustee" should be prepared and filed with the real property recording office in the county where the property is located. A form for this purpose is generally available from the local county law library. A separate affidavit must be filed for each real property title held in the trustee's name.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Personal Property Transfers

Bank accounts, stocks and other items of personal property registered with a financial institution or other company and held in the trust are typically transferred to the successor trustee by a document called a Certification of Trust. The purpose of this document is to provide the financial institution or company with proof of the existence of the trust and successor trustee's authority under the trust, without providing a complete copy of the trust. A properly prepared certification must comply with applicable state law by including certain minimum information about the trust, such as the name of the settlor, when the trust was made and whether the trust is revocable or irrevocable. Financial institutions and other companies often provide their own certification form that meets the legal requirements.

Personal Property Not Registered

A settlor often includes in his living trust all his household furniture and furnishings as well as other personal property that does not ordinarily include a registered title. When the settlor dies, this type of property is transferred to the successor trustee when he takes possession of it. In situations where possession of the property can be acquired without controversy, the successor trustee should simply take possession. However, if other persons may interfere or frustrate the successor trustee's efforts, a court order will be needed to take possession of the property.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How Can I Change Title to Property in a Living Trust?


Related articles

The Responsibilities of the Trustee for a Living Trust in Indiana

A trust is an estate planning document that transfers property of the trust's creator, known as the “settlor,” to the trustee for the benefit of a beneficiary named in the trust document. A trust is considered a living trust when it is created and takes effect during the settlor’s lifetime. A living trust can either be revocable or irrevocable. In a revocable living trust, the settlor can amend or revoke the trust anytime during his lifetime. In Indiana, the trustee's duties are set forth in the Indiana Trust Code.

Changing a Family Trust Deed

A family member may have placed his property into a family trust as part of his estate planning process. Under the advice of his accountant, attorney or other professional or for a myriad of other reasons, he may have decided to remove the property from the trust or place the property, or a portion thereof, into a different trust.

How to Use a Family Trust to Remove Assets From an Estate

A family trust is created by a parent or parents for their family by placing property in a trust and naming family members as the beneficiaries. When the parents die, the property is not included in the probate estate and the surviving family members are able to use the property immediately. The requirements for properly executing a trust are defined by state laws, which vary. The Uniform Trust Code has been enacted in 23 states as of March 2012. As a result, the UTC represents a good basis to discuss how to properly execute a family trust.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

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 Sign Documents As a Successor Trustee of a Living Trust

A living trust is a common document in estate planning that provides for an orderly transfer of property without having ...

How to Create a Valid Living Trust in Illinois

A living trust can allow the creator of the trust to use the trust property during his lifetime, and when the creator ...

How to Dissolve My Revocable Living Trust in California

The settlor of a California revocable living trust may dissolve all or part of the trust at any time. A revocable ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED