If you want your property to be disbursed according to your Trust at your passing, you need to transfer title of the property into the Trust.  This is especially important when it comes to real estate.

quitclaim deed to trust

California Trust Transfer Deed

Step One:  Obtain a copy of your current deed.

If you don’t have it or can’t find it, this can be obtained from the County Recorder in the county in which your property is located.  Some counties allow you to download it online immediately.  Others, such as San Diego, allow you to perform a Grantor/Grantee index search online, but you must wait for the documents to arrive by mail once you have paid for and ordered them.

Step Two:  Identify the names of the grantees on the current deed.

If you are John and Jane Doe, a married couple, the Grantees of the deed are probably “John Doe and Jane Doe, as husband and wife” or “John Doe and Jane Doe, as joint tenants with right of survivorship.”

Step Three:  Identify the name of the Trust.

Once you have the current deed, you know how title is held.  Hopefully, you already have a Living Trust.  If not, back up and get one before proceeding.  So, you have your Living Trust.  Now, look for its official name.  Perhaps it is “The John and Jane Doe Living Trust dated June 4, 2011.”

Step Four:  Identify the name of the Trustee(s).

The Trustees are probably you and your spouse; John and Jane Doe, as Co-Trustees.

Step Five:  Choose Your Transfer Deed.

A grant deed carries an implied warranty with the transfer that there are no clouds on title.  A quitclaim deed does not.  But since you are in essence transferring the property to yourself, a quitclaim deed is usually fine.

Step Six:  Complete The Transfer Deed.

Grantor of the transfer deed is the Grantee of the current deed obtained in Step One and identified in Step Two.  Grantees of the transfer deed are the Trustees identified in Step Four of the official Trust name identified in Step Three.  For example, “John Doe and Jane Doe, as Co-Trustees of the John and Jane Doe Living Trust dated June 4, 2011.”  Make sure you input the property description and APN exactly as reflected on the current deed.  Sometimes the description is an Exhibit.  Just copy it exactly.

Step Seven:  Sign the transfer deed.

Deeds must be notarized.  Mobile notaries are convenient.  Most UPS and Postal Annex stores have a notary onsite.  The going rate is $15 per signature.  Both Co-Trustees must sign the transfer deed before a notary.

Step Eight:  Complete a Preliminary Change in Ownership (PCOR).

Do NOT forget to complete this form and send it with the deed to the County Recorder.  You canobtain the form online on your County Recorder’s website.  It doesn’t need to be notarized but it must reflect that you are transferring the property to a living trust so that the county does not reassess the property for tax purposes.

Step Nine:  Record the Transfer Deed.

Take the notarized transfer deed and PCOR to the County Recorder office, pay the fee, and have the documents recorded.  That’s it.  You have transferred the title of your property to your Trust.

Or, in the alternative, you can just take one step and hire competent counsel to take care of it for you to make sure it is done properly as this newsletter is for informational purposes only and is not intended to give legal advice.