From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I had a Revocable Living Trust created several years ago, but I have not put anything into it. I own my Philadelphia home, a few bank accounts and investment accounts. I want everything to pass to my daughter at my death, but she lives in California, so I want the transfer to be easy. Should I move my house from my name into the Revocable Trust?
The goal you have stated in forming your Revocable Living Trust was to make things easier on your daughter who lives in California. Though your intentions are good, without moving the house into the trust you really have done nothing to help her.
The basic idea surrounding a Revocable Living Trust is that during your lifetime you either move your assets into the trust or you set things up so that at your death, they pour into the trust. For example, your bank and investment accounts could be made TOD (transfer on death) into the Revocable Trust. This way, at your death, your daughter can take over as successor trustee and collect the assets using only your death certificate. There is no need to file your Will. Those accounts pour into the trust automatically by contract at your death.
There is no way, though, to do this with your real estate. Real estate must be moved into the Revocable Living Trust during your lifetime for the system to work. If you do not, your daughter will be forced to file your Will. Instead, you can have us file a Quit Claim Deed moving your house from your name into the Revocable Trust. This way, at your death, your daughter will become the successor trustee and can immediately place the house up for sale. There is no need to file the Will.
With these last few steps, your Revocable Living Trust will become a useful tool.
If you have any other questions about Estate Planning or Revocable Living Trusts, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.