Once your revocable living trust has been created, you need to “fund” the trust with your assets. A trust that is not funded is useless as a vehicle to avoid probate. If you have gone to the time and expense of preparing a trust, you certainly don’t want your heirs to have to go through probate so it is very important that you “fund” your trust.
“Funding” your trust means that you transfer ownership of your assets into the name of your trust. In the case of real property, this means executing a new deed transferring the property from your name as an individual to your name as the trustee of your trust.
In the case of bank accounts, brokerage accounts, stocks, and bonds, you need to show the institution that your trust exists and you want the accounts to be in the name of your trust. Your estate planning attorney should have included a Certificate of Trust in your revocable living trust package, which is a simplified document showing the existence of the trust, the powers of the trustee, and other information about your trust without revealing the dispositive provisions.
Personal property is usually transferred into your trust by a document called an Assignment of Personal Effects or a General Assignment.
We see many clients who contact our office to amend their trust and we discover in the process that they have acquired assets since the creation of their trust which they have neglected or forgotten to title in the name of the trust. In other words, the trust was initially “funded” but later acquired asserts have not put into the trust.
Not all assets that you have as part of your estate are titled in the name of your trust. Cars, for example, are not usually put in the name of the trust because you are always purchasing different ones and they are easily transferred after death through the DMV. IRA’s, pension plans, 401(k)s, and other qualifed retirement plans should have named beneficiaries. You can make your trust the secondary or contingent beneficiaries after individuals, depending on your situation.
It is important that after you create your trust, you have it reviewed periodically to see that it still relects your wishes and that everything that should be titled in the name of the trust, has in fact been transferred. We can help you create a trust or review your existing trust to be sure it is up to date. Call Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation & Associates for a complimentary consultation.