Bonnie and Clyde created a trust to ensure that when they passed away they no one would have to worry about probate and the people they cared about the most used the money and assets they were going to inherit in a way that actually benefited their lives.
Or so they thought.
See, when Bonnie and Clyde finalized and signed their living trust they felt so good about it that they thought they were done with the process.
That explains why Bonnie was surprised when Clyde passed away and she found herself in the middle of a tedious and arduous probate process to move Clyde’s half of the house into the trust they had established.
When You Create a Trust it’s Useless Until You Fund It
Bonnie and Clyde forgot the cardinal rule when it comes to living trusts – it is a useless box until you fund it (i.e. put something in it of value).
One of the biggest assets most people have, and one of the most confusing to move into a living trust, is your home.
Today we’re going to talk about how to put your house into your living trust.
What Exactly is “Funding” a Revocable Living Trust?
Funding a trust is the process of re-titleing and/or reassigning your assets so they are owned by the trust.
This protects you from creditors and if everything you own is in the trust then it avoids probate as well.
So How Do You Fund A Living Trust With Your Home?
Real estate is a common asset to have and can be difficult to fund if you aren’t familiar with dealing with county recorders and legal descriptions.
The first step is going to be finding someone, (i.e. your attorney) to prepare a deed for you. The deed is the actual instrument that transfers your home from yourself to your trust.
It is possible to prepare the deed by yourself, but be careful, a deed is a legal document that needs to be precise and accurate; it’s easy to get it wrong so have a professional look it over if you are drafting it yourself, it may save you time and money in the long run.
What Do You Need to Prepare the Deed for Filing?
When preparing the deed, you will need several items:
- A copy of your current vesting deed (a copy of the deed that you received when you purchased the property);
- a Statutory Warranty Deed or Quit Claim Deed, depending on what kind of deed your current title is; and
- a Real Estate Excise Tax Affidavit (REETA).
Specific counties may have their own requirements regarding page margins, page length, font size, fees and recording instructions.
Before you begin, check state and county regulations regarding document requirements by calling the register of deeds or court clerk. If your estate planning attorney is preparing the document for you, then they will know the county requirements.
The new deed will transfer title from you as an individual to you as a Trustee, assuming you are the Trustee of your trust, using language such as: “John Smith and Jane Smith, a married couple, for an in consideration of a transfer into revocable trust conveys and warrants (quit claims if a Quit Claim Deed) to John Smith and Jane Smith, Trustees and the successor trustees of the Smith Living Trust dated January 1, 2017.”
The legal description is a paragraph that physically describes your property. It has been included on every transfer deed that has been recorded regarding the property and needs to be included exactly the way that it is on your original deed. Your deed will also have to include the property address, parcel number, and your notarized signature.
The REETA is a Washington State form that can be pulled from google, and filling it out is pretty simple, because most of the information you already included in the deed. There are specific questions in Section 5 and 6 that will need to be answered and differ based on your property. The land use code is simply asking what type of property you have (i.e. Single family residence). You will have to include the appropriate WAC number for your transfer as well. To transfer from an individual to a living trust, the WAC number is WAC 458-61A-211(2)(g).
If you are a married couple, you and your spouse will need to squeeze your signatures in on both sides of Section 8 (as the Grantor and Grantee).
Once drafted, your deed will need to be signed in the presence of a notary. Then you or your attorney will take the signed deed and REETA, make copies, attach the appropriate fees and mail it to the recording office of the appropriate county. You will have to check with the county regarding fees and required copies.
When they receive it, the county will record the deed and return the recorded documents within 4-6 weeks. Once you receive the recorded deed you should keep it with your trust documents.
See, not to tough, right?
Christopher Small knows how to help people get rich and live forever. He is more than just an estate planning lawyer. He wants to help you create legacy.
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Christopher is a Bellevue estate planning lawyer with CMS Law Firm LLC. He is a speaker, a blogger, a husband, a father, a golfer, and really good at helping people create the life of their dreams.