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What Does it Mean to Fund a Trust?

Posted by Gayla K. AustinDec 15, 20220 Comments

Many people now choose to use a revocable living trust to pass along their estate to their survivors, instead of relying on the traditional last will and probate.  

And then question is:  what does it mean to fund the trust--how do I do that? 

Transferring Assets.  

Funding a trust is transferring assets from your name to your trust.  If you don't transfer the ownership of the asset from your personal name, whether it is your bank account(s), investment accounts, your real property, or any other asset, that asset is "hanging out"-- or not in your trust.  And, if you fail or neglect to "fund" your trust by transferring title of your assets to your trust, you then send your assets and your heirs through the probate court system. 

Keep in mind that if you sign your trust but do not transfer title of your assets to your trust, you still have not avoided probate.  You might have an amazing trust.  But--if you don't fund it, it doesn't control anything. 

Make Sure you Know What Assets You Own. 

How you fund your trust depends on what assets you own.  While each family is unique, your real property should be re-titled so that it is owned by your trust.  That new deed must be recorded in the deed records in the county where the property is located.  Working with your financial institutions, I can assist you with your baks and brokerage firms to re-title your financial accounts into the trust's name.  (See the article on beneficiary designations)

You likely have assets that do not need to be funded into your trust.  Your IRAs, for example.  You can avoid probate with them by naming beneficiaries on the account paperwork.  There is an alternative for naming your trust as the beneficiary of investment accounts. 

If you acquire new assets after you establish and fund your trust you should acquire those assets in the name of your trust.  If you purchase real property, put it in the name of your trust.  If you open a new account, open it in the name of the trust. 

For prospective law firm clients who want to schedule a free initial phone call with Gayla K. Austin, please call 307.200.1914.