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How To Transfer Assets to a Revocable Living Trust

There are two (2) basic methods for transferring assets to a revocable living trust, referred to as "funding" the living trust:

       1. Change the title of the property, or
       2. List the asset on the appropriate schedule of the revocable living trust.

We suggest you use both methods whenever possible. For example, you would list your home in the schedule and change the title as well.

Changing the Title to Property

There a only a few things that should be re-titled to the revocable living trust. The best example would be real estate, such as a home or rental property. For real estate, transferring title requires the execution of an appropriate real estate deed. Many armchair accountants and attorneys suggest the use of a quitclaim deed, however, in many states the use of a quitclaim deed to transfer to the revocable living trust could result in the transfer being ruled invalid by a court and subsequently result in probate of that property. This is a tactic frequently used by heirs disappointed with their bequest or lack thereof.

On the subject of disappointed heirs: another tactic used by potential heirs left out of a will is to claim that this was simply an oversight or that it was not intentional on the part of the testator. In NUPP Legal's revocable living trust there is specific language directly addressing those not receiving a bequest which reduces the potential of such an argument.

We suggest you use a specially modified warranty deed or grant deed for transfer into a revocable living trust. A warranty or grant deed actually conveys the property to the living trust regardless of the state and is virtually unbreakable in the event of a subsequent attack on your estate.

Listing the Property on the Property Schedule of the Revocable Living Trust

There are schedules or exhibits accompanying a revocable living trust. The property schedule, a list of the property you have transferred into the living trust, is usually Schedule A but may be whatever schedule cited in the revocable living trust for this purpose.

On the property schedule you can add property to the revocable living trust by merely describing the property. Examples would be: the 52" Sony television, my 2009 Ford Focus, all of my personal clothing, all furniture in my home located at 123 Any Street, etc.  This schedule should be updated whenever you acquire expensive property or other articles you wish to put into the revocable living trust. In any event, you should update it at least once a year and have it notarized.

This is also a good place to list bank accounts, retirement accounts, brokerage accounts and other accounts that may move money frequently and you will not re-title. You can use the format, my checking account #12345678 at National Savings Bank.

Please review What Items Can I Transfer to a Revocable Living Trust for suggestions of items that you should and should not re-title to a revocable living trust and how you can have these items pass to the beneficiaries of your choice.