Estate planning is one of the things we pride ourselves in at eLegacy. We walk you through every step of the process and ensure that your estate is protected when you pass away. But finalizing an estate plan isn’t the end of the road. If you include a living trust, you also have to fund it. Funding a trust just means you’re transferring your assets to the ownership of your trust.
Not everything can be transferred to the trust together. You’ll have to take a number of steps depending on what you’re transferring.
Transferring real estate to a trust
In order to transfer real property to a trust, you need a deed. Our law firm can handle this with you to ensure it’s done correctly. A word of caution: transferring real estate can result in transfer taxes and other fees in certain states.
In most states, you’ll need the following:
- Notary provision
- Record with the appropriate agency
- File a copy of the trust document or a summary, called a memorandum of trust
Don’t forget to check on things like homeowner’s insurance and taxes to make sure they’re aligned with the new ownership.
Transferring cars or boats to a trust
Any type of vehicle that has a title, like a car, boat, RV, motorcycle, or even ATV, can be transferred to your trust. You’ll need a new title showing that the trust is now the owner.
In some states, you can keep the vehicle in your name, but designate your trust as the beneficiary. Then it would automatically transfer to the trust when you pass away. (Make sure to keep your vehicles insured.)
Personal property that doesn’t have a title can be transferred to a trust as well. You’ll fill out a document called Assignment of Property that’s signed and dated, and designates the trust as the new owner. You can list items broadly — like “furniture” or “electronics” — or mention specific items, like heirlooms or valuable pieces of jewelry.
Transferring bank accounts to a trust
Savings and checking accounts can be placed in a living trust. Any asset can be. The biggest perk to transferring bank accounts to a living trust is to avoid any money having to move through probate court. Probate is the court process of collecting and distributing a person’s estate when they die. It’s lengthy and expensive, depending on the complexity of the estate.
This isn’t the only way to avoid probate. To find what plan works best for you, speak to an attorney with our law firm.
Other assets that can be transferred to a living trust include:
- Business interests
- Royalties, copyrights, patents, and trademarks
- Gas, oil, and mineral rights
Why do trusts need to be funded?
Without being funded, you may as well not even have a revocable living trust. The person you appoint as trustee has no power over any of the property that hasn’t been retitled into the name of the trust.
This could create a situation where your loved ones have to create a court-supervised guardianship if you become incapacitated, or a conservatorship to manage assets not held in the name of the trust.
Your assets could also have to go through probate, which is one of the biggest perks of having a trust to begin with. So don’t skip this step, and don’t procrastinate. If something should happen to you between the time you sign your estate plan and the time you fund it, it will all have been for nothing.
Our team at eLegacy offers virtual estate planning services. We are not a DIY estate planning company. Rather, our attorneys meet with you virtually, saving you time and money. Together, we design an estate plan that is right for you and your needs.
Our estate plans at eLegacy are comprehensive and personalized, and our process is convenient and easy-to-understand. We are a law firm with attorneys and staff that bring our full estate planning experience directly to our clients.