What happens to my property once it is in a trust?

by Thomas D. Richards, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

Once you have moved some property into a trust, it will be protected from the Probate Court process.  All assets in the trust, if moved there properly, will pass to your trust beneficiaries directly without any interference from the Probate Court.  You will designate in your trust who will receive each piece of your property and when they will be entitled to receive it.  For example, if you leave your diamond ring to your daughter, you can specify that in the trust.  Your daughter will then be able to receive the ring very quickly after you pass.  The successor trustee whom you appointed in your trust will take care of ensuring that your daughter and all other beneficiaries will receive exactly what you wanted them to have.  The trust will hold the property that you have transferred into it until either you or your successor trustee transfers it out.  Only the acting trustee can move property out of the trust.  You are the trustee during your lifetime unless you become disabled. Once you no longer can act as trustee, then the person you have already named inside the trust to take over for your will take over.  The person you appoint as your successor trustee needs to be someone you trust to carry out your wishes.  He or she is also under a legal obligation called a “fiduciary duty” that is required by state law and any failure to carry out that duty can lead to civil and/or criminal charges against them.

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