Using Forms or Templates to Make a Trust Transfer Deed
There are trust transfer deed forms and templates available online. However, beware of using an online template or form to transfer real estate to your living trust. While you may save a few dollars up-front, using a do-it-yourself approach on a matter as complicated as a trust transfer can cost you or your heirs thousands of dollars later.
Unless you are a trained professional, it is easy to make mistakes when completing a trust transfer deed or the associated paperwork that must be filed with the deed in some states. For example, the trust transfer deed must include an exact legal description of the property. If you donít have the legal description, legal research may be required to get the legal description for inclusion in the deed. If your county requires a form to be submitted when the deed is filed, you may have questions about how to describe the type of transfer you are making. After the trust transfer deed is executed, it must be properly recorded with the county recorder. All these steps provide an opportunity for mistakes to be made.
In certain states, there are deed books which provide templates for making a deed in that state. For example, Deeds for California Real Estate includes a sample trust transfer deed and instructions for filing the deed. Nevertheless, you can typically have your deed professionally prepared by an attorney for only a few hundred dollars and it is well worth the investment to ensure it is done properly.
How To Get a Trust Transfer Deed
The best and most recommended method of making a deed to transfer your property to a living trust is through an attorney. Ask the attorney who prepared your living trust to prepare and record trust transfer deeds for all real estate you want included in your living trust. If your lawyer does not offer this service, ask your him or her to refer you to a firm that prepares and records these types of deeds. Another option is to contact a title company in your area to have a trust transfer deed prepared and recorded. Contact the county clerk recorderís office in the county where the real property is located for information on deed recording requirements and filing fees.
Using a Trust Transfer Deed to Fund a Living Trust
A trust transfer deed is a type of deed made by the owner of real estate to transfer title to the trustee of a living trust so the property will pass to the ownerís beneficiaries without probate. A trust transfer deed is the method by which the grantor or settlor of a living trust funds the living trust by transferring title to real property to the living trust.
If you make a living trust but fail to take all the necessary steps to transfer title to your home and other real estate to the trustee of your living trust, those assets will not pass through your living trust at your death. Any real property you own that is not in your living trust may have to go through probate, depending on how title to property is held. Even if you hold title with your spouse or domestic partner in a method of title that features survivorship, so that your surviving spouse inherits your entire interest upon your death, that real estate will still have to go through probate upon the death of the surviving spouse unless it is placed in a living trust or another method of non-probate transfer is implemented prior to the death of the surviving spouse.
If you want to make a revocable living trust but are concerned about whether you will maintain control over your property, see our page on Living Trust Property. For more information on how to avoid probate of your estate, see our page on Non-Probate Transfers.
Can I Refinance My Mortgage If My Home is in a Living Trust?
While some banks will refinance a mortgage when the property is titled in the name of the trustee of a living trust, many lenders require title to be transferred out of the living trust and back into the name of the individual grantor, also called the settlor, before they will issue a new loan on real estate. If your lender requires you to take your home out of your living trust to refinance, you can either look for another lender that will refinance the property while it is in a living trust, or execute and record a series of deeds to comply with your lenderís requirements.
The process of transferring title out of the living trust is relatively simple but will involve fees, such as fees for preparation of the deeds as well as filing or recording fees. First, you will have to properly execute and record a deed transferring title out of your living trust. After your new loan closes, you will need to have another trust transfer deed prepared and recorded to transfer title back to your living trust.
Review your loan documents carefully to ensure you comply with all lender requirements. Consult an estate planning attorney for assistance transferring real estate out of your living trust and back to the living trust when you refinance. For more information on living trusts, refer to our free Living Trust Guide.