Making a living trust can be a useful estate planning tool and once you have signed the trust document you can be begin the process of funding the trust—transferring your property into the trust. The transfer essentially involves changing title to your significant assets, such as real estate, stock and vehicles, from your name solely to your name in your capacity as trustee of the living trust. In the case of your real estate, you will accomplish the transfer by preparing and recording a trust transfer deed.
Locate the original grant deed for the property. If it's not available for some reason, a copy can be used to work from so long as it's reliable. Also have your living trust document available.
Obtain a standard form of a trust transfer deed that is used in your state. These documents are usually freely available online, but can also be found in a local legal stationary store. If you have difficulty locating a form, call a local title company or Realtor and ask where to find the form as these business frequently use deeds of all types.
Prepare the trust transfer deed by filling in the required information using your grant deed as a guide. Copy the legal description for your property from the grant deed into the corresponding area of the trust transfer deed for a legal description. Double check to ensure that you have copied the legal description into the trust transfer deed exactly as it is stated in the grant deed. Failure to do so may result in transferring less than the entire property to the trust, which may require court action to correct at some future time.
In the part of the trust transfer deed for the name of the "grantor" or “transferor,” insert your name. In the part for the name of "grantee" or "transferee" (or sometimes just after the words "hereby grants to..."), insert your name as trustee as identified in your trust. For example, this should be something similar to “John Smith, as Trustee of the Smith Family Trust.” Complete any other identifying information needed on the trust transfer deed, usually a section at the very top of the form that will include your name and address as the person who is requesting recording of the deed.
Go to a notary public, taking the completed trust transfer deed with you, and sign the deed in the presence of the notary as instructed by the notary. The notary is entitled to a fee for this service, typically $5 to $15 depending on the laws of your state.
Take your notarized trust transfer deed to your local government office used for recording property records. This is usually called the "county recorder's office," but some localities use the county courthouse as the recoding office. Present the deed to the clerk for recording.
- Each locality will have its own unique requirements for recording a deed, such as necessary fees and other informational forms. Contact the recorder's office before attempting to record your deed so that you know what to expect. Just about every recorder's office will have this information online and should provide the information over the phone.
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