Transferring real estate to your Trust

Transferring real estate to your Trust typically requires signing a deed to transfer your interest in the property to the Trust and then recording that deed with the county.

The process varies a little by state. Each county can set its own requirements for how to format a deed, how to record a deed, and whether any other paperwork must be filed with the deed. Your county recorder should be able to provide more information on these requirements and can often provide a blank deed template. Most states recognize several types of deeds, but “Quit Claim Deeds” or “Trust Transfer Deeds” are most commonly used to transfer property to a Trust.

Here are the general steps:

  1. Check with your county recorder for any specific requirements for deeds. The county recorder should be able to detail any formatting requirements (or provide a template) and explain any other paperwork that may be required with a deed.
  2. Complete the deed by listing the Trustee of the Trust (Described in the “How to Title Assets” article), as the Grantee. A copy of the prior deed may be helpful and may also be obtained from the county recorder.
  3. Complete any other paperwork required for your county. Additional paperwork is often required to identify the beneficiary of the Trust. While you are living, you are the beneficiary of your Trust.
  4. Record the deed and file any other paperwork with the county recorder. Deeds may be recorded in person at the county recorder’s office or by sending the original deed by mail. Your county recorder can provide more guidance.

A quick note about mortgages and deeds of Trust:

  • Many mortgages and deeds of Trust include a “due-on-sale” clause saying the entire balance is due immediately if the property is transferred. Federal and state laws say that these due-on-sale clauses are not triggered by the transfer of most residential real estate to most Trusts.
  • This may also be relevant if you refinance your mortgage. Many lenders require you to take the property out of the Trust to refinance, but then allow you to put the property back in the Trust after the refinancing is complete.
  • If you're planning on purchasing or refinancing a home, it'll probably be easiest to wait to transfer your home to your Trust until after this is complete.
  • As always, there are some exceptions, so it’s a good idea to contact your lender before the transfer to request written confirmation that the transfer will not violate any terms of the mortgage or deed of Trust.

A quick note about insurance policies

  • Most insurance policies related to real estate (fire, casualty, liability) automatically cover property transferred to a Trust. However, it’s still a good idea to check with your insurers about your policies and see if any additional endorsements or updates are needed in connection with the transfer.

Additional resources

This information is intended as a reference only. It is not legal advice nor intended to cover every possible situation. Please consult an attorney if you have specific questions. Some details for funding your Trust may change over time. For example, if the Trustee changes, that would likely affect how you would title assets held in the Trust.

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