A house, particularly one that is a primary residence, is not like other assets or pieces of property. A house can be the most significant asset that a person owns and there may be good reasons to have the house included in a trust. However, if you are the trustee of a trust that holds real estate then there are some things that you should know immediately. Being a trustee when a house is part of the trust means taking on a lot more responsibilities.
There Are Special Things That You Need to Do if a House Is Part of the Trust
Specifically, you need to:
- Continue paying the bills, mortgage, and insurance related to the property. As trustee, you have the obligation to make sure that the bills, the mortgage, the insurance, any homeowner’s association fees, and any other necessary expenses are paid. Of course, this money should not come out of your own pocket, but it is important that you use the correct funds from the trust or estate. If you fail to do so then you may violate your fiduciary duty and you may be legally accountable for any financial harm that is caused by your failure to act.
- File a change in ownership statement after the death of the property owner. The property should be put into the new owner’s name as soon as possible to avoid tax problems and other confusion.
As always, you need to exercise your fiduciary duty as trustee and act in the accordance with the trust terms and for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries. This is particularly important if the house is part of the trust as this often means more work for the trustee and causes the trust to file additional notices and paperwork if the trust states the home must be sold in order for an equal distribution to take place.
This May Be Difficult—But There Is Help Available
Executing a trust is not always easy, but there are things that you can do to make sure that you are doing it the right way. The first thing that you can do is to learn about your responsibilities. We invite you to request a copy of our FREE DVD, Understanding the Revocable Living Trust in Language That Anyone Can Understand in 8 Minutes, and to contact us directly with any questions.