How to Transfer Assets With a Revocable Trust After Death

by Ciaran John ; Updated July 27, 2017

When the creator, also known as the settlor, of a living trust dies, the trustee must disburse the trust's assets in accordance with the instructions detailed in the trust document. Assets held in a revocable trust are not subject to probate so you can begin to disburse the trust assets to beneficiaries without having to obtain court approval. Some people opt to serve as trustee of their own revocable trusts, in which case you can only disburse the fund's assets if you were named as the successor trustee, since the successor must handle the trust's affairs when the trustee dies.

Step 1

Review the revocable trust document to see which beneficiaries the settlor wanted the particular assets to pass to. The settlor may have wanted to give cash to the beneficiaries rather than property, in which case you must make arrangements to liquidate the assets and sell the property before making any disbursements.

Step 2

Go to the local courthouse with any beneficiaries that are due to take possession of real estate. Obtain a copy of a warranty deed from the courthouse for each property being disbursed. Sign the deed over to the beneficiary on behalf of the trust, pay the filing fee with trust funds and make sure a state appointed notary witnesses the signing of the deed.

Step 3

Contact a local real estate listing agent and make arrangements to have any trust owned properties that you need to sell listed on the real estate market. Seek advice from the real estate agent as to pricing the property and see if the trust document contained any special instructions for the home. Deposit the proceeds from the real estate sale into one of the trust's bank accounts.

Step 4

Go to the banks and brokerage firms that hold the trust's assets and close of all of the accounts except for one transactional account into which you must deposit the proceeds from the closed accounts. Use the proceeds of the consolidated account to settle any liabilities of the trust such as unpaid taxes, legal fees or other kinds of debts.

Step 5

Contact all of the beneficiaries named in the trust and find out each beneficiary's bank account number and routing number. Calculate each beneficiary's share of the trust's closing balance and, using the account information provided, wire the account proceeds to the beneficiaries. When the transactions have cleared the account, you can close the revocable trust bank account.

Tips

  • When you name pay-on-death (POD) beneficiaries on a bank account, you turn your personal account into an informal revocable trust. Such accounts are not controlled by the trustee. The POD beneficiaries must contact the bank directly and can close the account and access funds once the bank receives a certified copy of the death certificate.

Warnings

  • State laws relating to revocable living trusts vary and in some states, creditors and relatives of the deceased can go to court and question the validity of the trust. Familiarize yourself with your state's laws before disbursing the trust assets, otherwise the trust will lack the funds to settle any court approved claims on its assets.

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