Executing a revocable living trust is an important way to plan for the disposition of your estate and to prevent the need for probate. But it is only effective over assets held in the trust. This is why it's important to not only list the asset (which should be adequately described) on the Schedule A of your trust, but also to properly change title. For real estate, this means executing a deed transferring the property to your trust. For personal property and business interests, it will include executing an assignment to the trust.
It also means changing title to your checking and savings accounts. Although this is not difficult, it is very common for people who have a trust to fail to do this. This can make life difficult for your successor trustee, and it may make it necessary to open a probate case in order to access the accounts, depending on the value. If you have a trust, you should verify that your bank accounts (and other assets) are properly titled.
How do I change title to my bank accounts?
It's not difficult to make this change. You need to contact your bank and tell them about the existence of the trust, and that you would like to re-title the name of your checking and savings accounts. They will require documentation, but you should only have to provide your certification of trust, the summary document which has all relevant information to re-title your accounts. Keep in mind that the bank may require the full trust document. Although this should not be required, if requested, it is usually easier to comply than to argue with them.
You should not have to open a new account or get new checks (at least until the old checks run out). But it will depend on the institution. Each bank is different. If the bank asks you for the specific titling language, it should be on the certification of trust or the trust document.
In order for your living trust to be effective at avoiding probate, you need to properly transfer your assets to reflect title in the name of the trust. This includes your checking and savings accounts. If you have any questions, or need assistance with this, please contact an attorney or other professional who can assist with the process.
Helix Law Firm can help with estate planning
If you need help transferring property to your trust, or would like to review your estate plan, we can help. We can advise you on how (and whether) to transfer assets to your trust. We can also take a look at your documents and see if it would be wise to update them.
If you're interested in learning more, please call us at (619) 567-4447 to schedule a free consultation.