After you've created a revocable living trust, you must fund it by moving your assets into it. If you want to place your bank account in the trust, you must change the name on the account to that of your trust and name yourself as the trustee. This allows you to maintain control of the account. If you have an irrevocable trust, a new account must be opened in the trust's name -- you can't just change your current account's title.
Changing your bank account title into a trust isn't too difficult, particularly if you can take a moment to visit your local bank branch. Here, a bank representative can help walk you through the necessary steps.
Exploring Revocable Trusts
Visit your local bank branch and let the branch manager or representative know you want to transfer your bank account into the trust. Give the bank representative a signed and notarized copy of your trust document. The bank will need to confirm that you're the owner and verify the name of the trust. They'll also need to make sure the trust is valid and complies with your state's laws. Some accounts, such as checking accounts, aren't recommended for trusts. Unless your bank has rules against it, however, you can still legally transfer any bank accounts you own to a trust.
Remove any beneficiaries designated on your current bank account if you want to place the account in the trust. Payable-on-death accounts with a named beneficiary automatically bypass probate, so you don't have to put them in the trust if avoiding probate is your only concern. You can change the beneficiary on your POD account to the name the trust if you don't want to place the account in the trust. By designating the trust as the beneficiary, you avoid the court's involvement if the beneficiary is a minor or becomes incapacitated. Then list your beneficiaries in your trust documents and state who receives what and when. If you're leaving assets to a minor, you'll also need to create a will naming someone who can manage the account for him if you don't intend for the trust to remain open after your death. If it remains open, your successor trustee can manage the account for him.
Sign the new signature cards with your regular signature as the trustee. Co-trustees -- if you have any -- must also sign signature cards. If your trust contains a sole signature clause granting either trustee the right to sign checks and make withdrawals without the co-trustee's signature, point this out so the bank can note the account and the signature cards.
Analyzing Irrevocable Trusts
Visit your bank to let the representative know you want to move the funds in your bank account to an account in the irrevocable trust's name. Give the bank a copy of the notarized trust documents to review. Also provide the bank your trust's tax identification number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. Although revocable trusts allow you to use your Social Security number for tax reporting, an irrevocable trust must have a separate tax ID number.
Complete the new account paperwork in the trust's name. Example of accounts you can open for the irrevocable trust include Certificate of Deposit, money market or a checking or savings account. Fund the account by instructing the bank to transfer the money from your current bank account into the trust account.
You can't act as trustee of an irrevocable trust -- you must appoint someone else. It's typically easier for the trustee to open an account in the name of the trust, signing the signature cards himself. You can then simply write a check from your personal account to the trust to fund the new account. You also should be aware that you lose control of assets placed into an irrevocable trust so you'll no longer be able to access the funds after they're placed in the trust account.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.