Trust Funding Generally

The provisions of a trust only apply to assets which are "owned" by the trust. The process to transfer the ownership of assets into a trust is referred to as "funding" a trust. Given the wide variety of assets which may need to be funded into a trust, here is some generally accepted recommendations. 

The "EIN" or "TIN" of the Trust

When interacting with financial institutions, you may be requested to provide the "Employer Identification Number" or "Taxpayer Identification Number" of the trust. The EIN or TIN is a 9-digit number an entity can request for the IRS to be independently identified. However, for a revocable living trust, the creator's Social Security Number is used. For a married couple, either number is permitted but it is good practice to be consistent among all assets.

Bank Accounts and After-Tax Brokerage Accounts.

Qualified Retirement Accounts (IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, etc.)

Real Estate

Life Insurance and Other Death Benefits

Business Interests

Motor Vehicles

Nearly all DMVs in the United States (California included) have their own transfer process in the event of the death of the owner of a motor vehicle. This process bypasses probate and is almost always much more convenient that trying to register a motor vehicle in the name of a trust. As so, motor vehicles can be left owned outside of the trust with little consequences. Owners of collectible or high-value vehicles, however, may want to consider formally transferring ownership and registering the vehicle in the trust.

Safe Deposit Boxes

Safe deposit boxes can (and should) be owned by one's trust. Your branch where the safe deposit box is located should be able to assist you. However, it is important to inquire with your bank what the process is of gaining access to a box owned by the trust if you intend to keep the original trust inside the box.

Personal Property

Art, clothes, jewelry, furniture, family heirlooms, and other items of personal property are transferred into one's trust by way of a document entitled, "Assignment of Personal Property Interest." This is executed as part of the Comprehensive Estate Planning Package and is located behind Tab #9 of your book.

Other Types of Assets

The above assets cover over 95% of the types of assets most clients have. If you have another type of asset not covered above (such as intellectual property or mineral rights), refer to this document for further instruction.

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