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Trust: How to Transfer Title to Your Home

This short article describes how to transfer title to your home to a simple revocable trust. It is a general description and you should seek competent legal advice before completing any such transfer.

But first, a quick review: Your trust must own something to be valid. This is called “funding” your trust. Your home is one of the main assets that must be owned by your trust to avoid the probate process after your death.

For example, if the deed to your house states that you individually own it, then your loved ones (beneficiaries) will not have the legal authority to transfer title to themselves when you die. They cannot sign your name on a new deed, even if you had previously given them financial power of attorney (in California, for example, a power of attorney automatically terminates upon death). They must then go to court, open a probate case, and ask the judge to transfer the title. This is a very long and expensive task.

To avoid this problem, the title to your home will be transferred to your trust during your lifetime. Remember, each trust will have a “trustee” whose job is to manage the assets owned by the trust. If it is your trust, then you probably named yourself as trustee.

Title to all property belonging to a trust is actually owned by the trustee of the trust.

For example, before John Doe created his new trust, his deed stated that the title to his house was owned by “John Doe” (individually). Now that John Doe has created the new trust for him, he will execute a new deed that transfers the title from “John Doe” to “John Doe as Trustee of the John Doe Revocable Trust.” It’s really that simple.

Of course, the new deed must be registered with the Recorder’s Office in the county where the house is located.

Remember, the John Doe trust will also have named a “successor trustee” who will take over when John becomes incapacitated or dies. At that time, the successor trustee will have full legal authority to do whatever the terms of the trust instruct him to do, including transferring title to the home to John’s beneficiaries.

You should consult with a local attorney to determine the particular type of deed that should be used to transfer title to the trustee. Hopefully, your revocable trust was created by a qualified attorney who completes all of these tasks and makes sure the deed is properly recorded.

Transferring title to your home to your trust is a relatively simple but important step. Again, seek the advice of a qualified attorney to help you.

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