by Thomas D. Richards, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist
Moving property into a trust is called the “funding” stage and occurs after you have created the trust. Your attorney will advise you of how to move assets into the trust. The most important assets to put into the trust are the ones that would be probated. Probating assets means that the Probate Court has stepped in upon the person’s passing and has taken control over their assets. This happens whether you have a Last Will or not. If you have transferred your assets into the trust before you pass, those assets will not go through the Probate Court process. You put assets into the trust by changing the “ownership” of the asset from yourself to the trustee of the trust. If the asset has a title document then you must re-file a new title. For example, a car has a paper title that you receive when you buy the car. In order to move the car into the trust, you need to file a new title with the auto title agency. For houses, you need to have a new deed prepared showing the trustee of the trust on the deed instead of yourself. In order to transfer other assets into the trust that do not have a title, such as furniture, equipment, tools, electronics, clothing, jewelry, etc., you simply state in the trust your intent to transfer those assets to your trust. Your attorney can assist you with this. Financial accounts such as stock broker accounts, mutual funds, money markets, certificates of deposit, savings accounts, checking accounts, etc. may also be moved into the trust. You can transfer these accounts to your trust by simply contacting the financial institution and they will guide you through their process.