Many people choose to create a living trust as part of their estate plans. A trust serves as an estate planning tool that allows for certain assets to be distributed when the time comes.
As the person creating and funding the trust, you are the grantor or settler of the trust, and you have the power to choose:
- The type of trust to create (revocable living trusts are common).
- Which assets go into the trust.
- A person to serve as trustee to manage the trust and control assets once they have been transferred.
- Beneficiaries to receive the assets in the trust.
The process of transferring assets into the trust is known as funding the trust. Once you transfer an asset into the trust, the ownership of the asset will transfer from you to your trust. The process of funding the trust and transferring ownership will depend on the type of asset. Here are a few examples of assets you may want to transfer into your trust and how you may go about completing the transfer.
- Titled property (e.g., vehicles): Create a new title for the asset and name the trust as the owner of the property.
- Untitled property (e.g., jewelry): Create an “assignment of property” to designate the trust as the owner of the property.
- Real estate: Use a quitclaim deed to transfer ownership to the trust.
- Bank accounts: Transfer funds from the bank account to an account owned by the trust and then close the bank account.
- Stocks and bonds: Reissue stock and bond certificates with the trust named as the owner.
- Life insurance: Name the trust as the beneficiary for the policy.
Retitling assets and making sure that the trust is the owner of the assets in the trust is a key part to ensuring that your trustee can properly distribute your trust assets to your beneficiaries when the time comes. If an asset has not been retitled, or you create an unfunded trust, your assets may have to go through probate and not end up going to the beneficiaries you have chosen. An attorney in Tampa specializing in probate and estate administration can help you fund your trust and create an estate plan that works for you.