When you create a living trust, you need to fund it by placing assets into it. If you fail to do this properly, your trust will be “empty,” meaning that the assets you think are there really aren’t. This, in turn, can cause numerous problems for your trust beneficiary or beneficiaries.
One of the simplest ways to fund your trust is to transfer one or more of your existing savings, checking or other accounts into it. That way, these accounts remain secure until the provisions of your trust instruct the trustee to distribute the assets to your designated beneficiaries.
But how do you go about transferring your chosen accounts into your trust? It’s basically a 3-step process that applies to any financial account active at any financial institution.
1. Notify Your Financial Institution of Your Intentions
Naturally, your financial institution needs to know what it is that you want to do. You can accomplish your goal most easily by visiting a local branch of your institution in person and asking to speak to someone who can help you transfer your account into a trust.
2. Provide the Appropriate Information
Financial institutions generally have their own transfer forms that they want you to complete and sign. Usually these forms ask for the following types of information:
- Your name
- Your account number
- Your trust’s name and date of creation
- Your trust’s current trustee
- Your Social Security number
- Your mailing address
- Your phone number
- Your email address
Assuming you named yourself as your trust’s trustee, the form may ask you to give the name of your successor trustee as well. In this way, the institution knows who will take over management of the trust if you become incapacitated or die.
Many people mistakenly believe that a bank or financial institution requires a copy of a trust in order to change the account’s title. However, that is not the case. Some institutions want to see a copy of the first and last pages of your trust so they can verify its name and that it is properly signed, dated and notarized. The provisions of your trust remain confidential and known only to you and your trustee if you named someone other than yourself to act in that capacity.
3. Sit Back and Relax
Your financial institution will take it from there, finalizing your account’s change of title from you to your trust. Generally, there’s no need for an account number change. The institution will, however, want your trust’s trustee to sign a new signature card for the re-titled account. Assuming that’s you, simply sign the signature card with your regular name, making sure to designate yourself as the trust’s trustee. This ensures that you retain the right to continue making deposits into and withdrawals out of the account.
Keep in mind that the above procedures apply only to revocable living trusts. You cannot act as trustee for any irrevocable trusts you establish.
Getting the Legal Help You Need
To set up your trusts properly, you need the legal help that the experienced team of attorneys at AmeriEstate Legal Plan, Inc. can provide. Trust creation definitely is not a do-it-yourself undertaking, so contact us today. We’ll be happy to answer all your trust questions and help you create the trusts you need to provide for yourself and your loved ones.