How do I take title of trust assets that weren’t held in trust before my loved one died?

As you are likely discovering, administering the trust of your loved one is a great deal of work. There are many responsibilities that you take on when you accept the role of successor trustee. One of these duties is to ensure that trust assets are taken care of. To do so, you must first take title to the assets. When the assets were not held in trust prior to your loved one’s passing, the procedure for taking title is different than it is when the assets are already in trust.

Taking Title to Assets When They Weren’t Held in Trust

While the procedure for taking title varies depending on the asset type, following is an overview for some of the more common types of assets.

Real estate not held in the name of the trust prior to the decedent’s passing is more involved than it would have been otherwise. Depending on who held title to the property, the transfer may be relatively straightforward, or it may be complex. For example, if the decedent was the sole individual who held title, the transfer may involve an affidavit of death, a probate court order, and a new deed recorded in Orange County or the appropriate county where the property is located. If the decedent held title with a predeceased spouse or other individual, however, additional documentation is required.

For financial accounts, automobiles, insurance policies or other assets that are not considered real property, it may be possible to transfer title of the asset by using a declaration that states you have met certain statutory requirements. These requirements are outlined further below:

  • More than 40 days have passed since the death of the decedent.
  • No probate proceedings are pending or will be filed.
  • The trustee is the person entitled to collect the asset.
  • The declaration is signed under the penalties of perjury.
  • The total value of all of the assets of the decedent subject to probate are worth less than $100,000, excluding homes, vessels, and certain employment-related death benefits.

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