How to Transfer Assets Into a Living Trust

by Contributor ; Updated July 27, 2017
Transfer Assets Into a Living Trust

Items you will need

  • Stock certificates
  • Bank statements
  • Notary public
  • Estate-planning attorney
  • Property deeds

How to Transfer Assets Into a Living Trust. Spouses often use living trusts to protect assets from being probated and taxed upon a spouse's death. For a living trust to be valid and actually bypass probate, any of the assets with a title that are meant to be passed on to a beneficiary must be registered in the name of the trust.

Plan Your Living Trust Before Finding an Attorney

Step 1

Decide which items you want to place into your living trust. You can place almost anything you own in this trust, from real estate to items of clothing. List these items categorically on a piece of paper to bring to your attorney.

Step 2

Locate an estate-planning attorney. An estate-planning attorney will assist you with the paperwork involved for living trusts and make sure every asset you wish to have in the living trust is transferred. The biggest downfall with living trusts is when people fail to transfer everything into the name of the trust, so be aware of this as you proceed.

Step 3

Gather together all of your bank statements, property deeds, stock certificates and titles of ownership to bring to the attorney. The estate-planning attorney will use these documents to transfer all of the assets into your living trust.

Transfer Property Into Your Living Trust

Step 1

Make a list of all personal items that you wish to put into the living trust. This can include jewelry, art, clothing, antiques, collections and furniture.

Step 2

Sign the document in front of a notary who will also sign the form (and in some states, place a seal on the form).

Step 3

Use a quitclaim deed to transfer the title of all real estate into the name of the trust. If you use an estate-planning attorney, she will handle this step for you. If you are designing your own living trust, or acquiring the property at a later date, it is important to transfer the title or deed into the name of the living trust.

Step 4

Record the deed with the town by taking it to the town clerk's office and paying the recording fee.

Tips

  • Check with your local bank or chamber of commerce for the contact information of a notary public. Do not sign papers to be notarized until you are in front of the notary and instructed to do so. Some states refer to the probate court as a "surrogate's court." Each state has its own name for this branch of the court, though its functions are the same.

Warnings

  • Items that already have a beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy or an IRA, do not need to be transferred into your living trust. These items are already designated to pass to the beneficiary outside of probate and will most likely not be taxed. Not all stocks and investment plans will be eligible for transfer into your living trust, as most of these assets already have a designated beneficiary and will bypass the probate or surrogate's court.