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How to Transfer Assets into a Living Trust

A young couple discussing  their trust with a young professional

Living trusts have become a popular way to bypass the costly, public, and time-consuming process of probate and enables your successor trustee to carry out your wishes. We have created a simple step-by-step process to help you transfer your assets into a living trust:

STEP 1: Understand the Benefits

A living trust has many benefits such as avoiding probate, protecting the privacy of your beneficiaries, the ability for your successor trustee to manage your affairs in the event that you become incapacitated, and the protection of minor beneficiaries’ assets. Look into additional benefits to see if a living trust would be a good fit for you.

STEP 2: Categorize your Assets

Make a list of your assets and separate into the four main categories:

  1. Real Property (your home and any real estate you own)

  2. Cash Accounts (checking accounts, savings accounts Certificates of deposit and Money Market accounts)

  3. Stocks and Bonds (buying part ownership or making a loan to a corporation)

  4. Personal Tangible Property (vehicles, furniture, etc.)

STEP 3: Create a Simple Will

A living trust is just one part of your estate plan and does not negate the need to have a will. This will help you divy assets that are not included in your living trust.

STEP 4: Transfer your Real Estate

After creating your living trust, our experts at Hunsberger Dunn LLP can draw up the deeds needed to transfer ownership of your real estate from you to your trust. This will protect your property from probate court.

STEP 5: Assign Ownership to your Financial Accounts

Talk to your bank to find out the specific procedure. They may require specific items such as copies of trust documents. You may have to open a new account in the name of your trust or simply change the name of your existing account.

STEP 6: Add Stocks/ Bonds to Trust

Contact the broker who manages your account or the issuer of the financial instrument to get specifics on how to add your stocks and bonds to your trust.

STEP 7: Add Tangible Property to Trust

Create a written inventory of tangible property you own (this will exclude vehicles). If you prefer, smaller items can be stored in a safe that is owned by your trust.

STEP 8: Assign Vehicles to Trust

Vehicles will require you to transfer the title over to your trust. This can be done at the registration office in the county that you live.  Also, be sure to list your trust as an additional insured party under auto insurance.

STEP 9: Select a Trustee

Choose who will be in charge of your assets if you become incapacitated or pass away. More often than not, people choose a spouse or trusted family member.

STEP 10: Name the Beneficiaries of your Assets

You must choose beneficiaries who will receive certain assets of your trust. Consulting with your attorney at Hunsberger Dunn LLP can help you best decide how to structure and name your assets given to beneficiaries.

STEP 11: Create an Estate Plan

Remember, your living trust should just be a part of your comprehensive estate plan. To learn more about estate planning click here to read our past blog. Have questions about creating your living trust? We are here to help!  Click here to contact the experts at Hunsberger Dunn LLP today!


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