How Do I Put My House in a Trust ? A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

David Smith

How Do I Put My House in a Trust

Ever thought about what happens to your house when you’re no longer around? It’s a heavy topic, but planning ahead can save your loved ones a lot of stress. One way to ensure your house is handled according to your wishes is by putting it in a trust. But how do you do that? Let’s break it down step by step.

Understanding Trusts

Definition of a Trust

A trust is a legal arrangement where one person, known as the trustee, holds and manages assets for the benefit of another person, known as the beneficiary. Trusts can be used for various purposes, but they’re particularly handy in estate planning.

Types of Trusts

Revocable Trusts

A revocable trust, as the name suggests, can be altered or revoked by the person who created it. This flexibility makes it a popular choice for estate planning.

Irrevocable Trusts

On the other hand, an irrevocable trust cannot be easily changed once it’s established. While this might seem restrictive, it has its own set of advantages, especially when it comes to taxes and asset protection.

Benefits of Putting Your House in a Trust

Avoiding Probate

One of the main reasons people put their house in a trust is to avoid probate. Probate is the legal process of settling an estate, and it can be lengthy and expensive. By placing your house in a trust, you can bypass this process.

Privacy Protection

Probate records are public, which means anyone can see the details of your estate. Trusts, however, are private. This means your assets and beneficiaries stay confidential.

Estate Tax Benefits

Depending on the type of trust, you might also benefit from certain estate tax advantages. This can be a significant saving for your heirs.

Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts

Key Differences

The main difference between revocable and irrevocable trusts is flexibility. A revocable trust can be changed, while an irrevocable trust is set in stone once it’s created.

Pros and Cons of Each

Revocable trusts are flexible but offer less protection from creditors and taxes. Irrevocable trusts provide greater protection and potential tax benefits but at the cost of flexibility.

Steps to Put Your House in a Trust

Step 1: Decide the Type of Trust

First, you need to decide whether a revocable or irrevocable trust is right for you. Consider your needs and consult with a legal professional.

Step 2: Choose a Trustee

The trustee is responsible for managing the trust. You can choose yourself, a trusted friend, family member, or a professional trustee.

Step 3: Draft the Trust Document

Next, you’ll need to draft the trust document. This is a legal document that outlines the terms of the trust. It’s best to work with a lawyer to ensure everything is done correctly.

Step 4: Transfer the Title of Your House

Finally, you’ll need to transfer the title of your house to the trust. This involves preparing a new deed that names the trust as the owner.

Choosing a Trustee

Who Can Be a Trustee?

A trustee can be anyone you trust to manage your assets responsibly. This could be yourself, a family member, a friend, or a professional trustee.

Responsibilities of a Trustee

The trustee has a fiduciary duty to manage the trust assets in the best interest of the beneficiaries. This includes maintaining the property, paying bills, and making decisions about the trust assets.

Drafting the Trust Document

Essential Elements

A trust document should include the name of the trust, the trustee, the beneficiaries, and the terms of the trust. It should also specify what happens to the trust assets if you become incapacitated or pass away.

Working with a Lawyer

Drafting a trust document can be complex, so it’s wise to work with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning. They can ensure all legal requirements are met and help you avoid common pitfalls.

Transferring the Title

Preparing the Deed

To transfer the title of your house to the trust, you’ll need to prepare a new deed that names the trust as the owner. This is known as a “quitclaim deed” or “warranty deed.”

Recording the Deed

Once the deed is prepared, it must be signed, notarized, and recorded with the county recorder’s office. This step is crucial to ensure the transfer is legally recognized.

Funding the Trust

What It Means to Fund a Trust

Funding a trust means transferring assets into it. In addition to your house, you might include bank accounts, investments, and other valuable assets.

Other Assets to Consider

Besides your house, consider including other significant assets like retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and valuable personal property.

Maintaining the Trust

Ongoing Responsibilities

Once your trust is established, it requires ongoing management. This includes keeping records, filing taxes, and ensuring the trust terms are followed.

Annual Reviews

It’s a good idea to review your trust annually or after any major life changes to ensure it still meets your needs.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Not Updating the Trust

Failing to update your trust after significant life events, like marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child, can lead to complications down the line.

Choosing the Wrong Trustee

Choosing the wrong trustee can result in mismanagement of the trust assets. Make sure your trustee is trustworthy and capable.

Costs Involved

Legal Fees

Creating a trust involves legal fees, which can vary depending on the complexity of your estate and the lawyer’s experience.

Administrative Costs

There are also ongoing administrative costs for managing the trust, including filing fees, taxes, and potential fees for professional trustees.

When to Update Your Trust

Major Life Changes

Update your trust whenever there are significant life changes, such as marriage, divorce, birth, or death of a beneficiary.

Changes in Laws

Stay informed about changes in estate and tax laws that might affect your trust and update it accordingly.


Putting your house in a trust is a smart way to manage your estate and ensure your wishes are followed. While it involves some upfront work and costs, the benefits of avoiding probate, maintaining privacy, and potentially saving on taxes can be well worth it. If you’re considering this step, consult with a legal professional to make sure it’s done right.


Can I Still Live in My House?

Yes, you can still live in your house even after it’s in a trust. The trust simply holds the title.

Do I Still Pay Taxes?

Yes, you’ll still be responsible for property taxes and any other taxes associated with your house.

Can I Change My Trust Later?

If you have a revocable trust, you can change it at any time. Irrevocable trusts are much harder to change.

What Happens If I Die?

When you die, the trustee will manage and distribute the trust assets according to the terms of the trust.

How Does a Trust Affect My Mortgage?

Placing your house in a trust generally doesn’t affect your mortgage, but it’s a good idea to inform your lender about the transfer.

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