Every revocable living trust should have a Schedule A attached to it. This is a document prepared by your estate planning lawyer to list all of the assets that are part of your trust, ie. they have been titled in the name of your trust “John Doe, Trustee of the John Doe Trust.”
There are two important things to keep in mind about your schedule A. First, it is just a summary of your trust assets. What is critical is that assets you want to be in your trust are indeed titled in the name of your trust. Assume for example that you buy a new home and that the deed to your new home lists your trust as the owner but you fail to get out your estate planning binder to add it to your Schedule A. Is the home “in” your trust? Is the home now a “trust asset”despite not being listed on your Schedule A? Yes, because what matters is how the deed is written, not whether you actually wrote it on your Schedule A.
The second important thing to know about a Schedule A is that although it is just a list, that list can in some circumstances assist in avoiding probate. As an example, suppose your Schedule A lists a particular brokerage account that you intended to title in the name of your trust but somehow forgot to mail in the necessary paperwork to make the change. Is the brokerage account “in” your trust (ie. is it a trust asset?) No, because it has not been properly titled in the name of your trust. In California however, if you have an assets listed on your Schedule A and have not transferred that asset by making the title change, you can file a petition called a Heggstad petition to show the court your intent was to transfer the asset into the trust.
Also important is that you keep your Schedule A up to date. Does it list bank accounts that you opened after you executed the trust? Does it show a vacation property you own? Are any businesses you operate in the trust? Have you sold some assets and bought other assets and listed those new assets on the schedule? An updated schedule can assist you during your lifetime in knowing which of your assets are trust assets and it can be useful for your successor trustee in handling your trust administration upon your death.
If you are now thoroughly confused about your Schedule A and its importance or not sure whether you have one, please give us a call at Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation and we would be happy to help.