The importance of and instructions

TRUST FUNDING

We cannot overemphasize the importance of having a fully funded Revocable Trust.  An unfunded or partially funded Revocable Trust does not avoid probate.  These instructions will help you fund your Revocable Trust. 

  • You will make ownership changes to change the title of most of your assets from your name as an individual to your name as Trustee of your trust.  
  • For other assets, such as life insurance and retirement accounts, you will make beneficiary changes to properly distribute those assets upon your death.  The beneficiary will not necessarily be your Revocable Trust–please see the Retirement Plans and Life Insurance and Annuities sections.

Generally, to transfer assets to your trust, you must execute new documents of title, deeds to real property, and signature cards for your bank accounts, as well as change of beneficiary forms for pension plans, individual retirement plans, and life insurance. 

Your financial advisor, accountant, broker, or life insurance agent may need to help you make ownership or beneficiary changes.  These instructions will give you general knowledge of how to fund your trust, but they cannot comprehensively address every type of transfer.  Please call us if you must make transfers that are not addressed in these instructions. 

We recommend you place copies of all written documents that evidence the assets of your Revocable Trust into your Revocable Trust Portfolio.  These assets may include your accounts, real property, business interests, insurance policy proceeds, or any other property.  Your final step in the transfer process should always be to place a document in the TRUST ASSETS section of your Revocable Trust Portfolio that proves your trust is the owner or beneficiary of each asset.  The bolded, italicized sentence ending the transfer instructions for each type of asset tells you what documents to put into your Revocable Trust Portfolio. 

Using Your Certification of Trust

Your Revocable Trust Portfolio contains a Certification of Trust.  In your certification, you state in writing that: 

your trust exists; 

you are one of the Trustees; and  

you have the authority and power to transact business as a Trustee.   

Most institutions have their own certification forms for you to fill out.  If the institution you are dealing with does not have a form, you should provide them with a copy of your Certification of Trust form.  Your Certification of Trust provides only the information that the persons you deal with need to see without disclosing confidential details. 

Your Tax Identification Number

As long as you are both alive, your Trustee does not need to obtain a separate tax identification number for your trust or to file a separate trust tax return.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prefers that you use your own Social Security number.  You should report all of the income generated by trust assets on your personal IRS Form 1040. 

Titling Assets in Your Name as Trustee

Generally, you should title all of your currently owned and newly acquired assets in the name of your trust.  We prefer the following format for titling assets in the name of your trust: 

FULL NAME OF TRUSTEE, TRUSTEE of the FULL NAME OF TRUST, dated DATE TRUST ORIGINALLY SIGNED  

Instructions for Transferring Specific Assets

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