With the “Baby Boomers” aging and more awareness with regards to estate planning, Living Trusts are as popular as ever as a tool for California residents to state their wishes as well as attempt to avoid the California probate process. While Living Trusts are common, understanding many of the details, documents and how it all functions can still be elusive to those getting ready to have Living Trusts prepared as part of their estate planning.
One big question that people getting ready to prepare living trust documents could be “Where Do I File My Trust”. This is a relevant question as people who have paid for and completed their estate planning will want to know where these important documents should be filed. Well there is a simple answer that applies to many of the common types of living trusts in California. The answer is that the living trust documents are not filed anywhere.
Let’s explore this concept a bit more. It seems a bit odd that such important documents would not be filed anywhere like the court, or another county agency but in fact common probate avoidance living trusts are not typically filed anywhere. They are private documents, which is one of the reasons that many people consider a benefit versus a will being delivered to a court for public access.
Common living trusts documents would include a living trust to designate beneficiaries, select distribution amounts and even name successors to facilitate those wishes. Wills are also commonly included which can identify personal property and distribution of those assets too. Also widely used in Living Trusts packages are Power of Attorneys and Healthcare Directives. While the last two documents, the power of attorneys, may be given to financial and medical institutions, again they are not commonly filed anywhere or made a public record, unless a real property transfer takes place.
So why do so many people assume that these documents need to be filed somewhere? Well one reason could be that there is commonly one important estate planning document that is recorded. We say “recorded” referring to submitting the documents to the County Recorder for them to place into their file and establish a public record. This is different than “filing”, which usually refers to a court case where documents are filed into a court case, which are also commonly public record. This document is the property deed. In many probate avoidance living trust packages a “Trust Transfer Deed” is prepared which transfer ownership of the real property into the living trust. By the trust owning the property it is subject to the guidelines of the trust and not the California Probate Court process. Again, this is in regards to the commonly prepared probate avoidance revocable living trusts.
When the living trust is prepared the property deed is typically created for the creators of the trust to move the ownership of the property. This document, to actually transfer ownership, must be recorded at the County Recorder’s Office. The County recorder maintains real property ownership records. When the trust transfer deed is recorded they will image and provide an immediate copy if requested, and mail the original copy back as requested. This serves as proof the transfer has occurred and this newly recorded deed is your most recent property transfer record showing the current ownership. Most Counties in California process the transfer when you record a deed same or next day. There are also nominal recording fees that will apply.
If you are considering taking control of your estate planning and know that a living trust is a great option for you, consider the help of a bonded and registered Legal Document Assistant. In California, Legal Document Assistants are authorized to prepare legal documents directly to the public. This allows consumers access to an affordable service while still being able to complete an estate plan for them and their families.
Just Document Preparation, legal documents assistants in Riverside County (offices in Murrieta and Riverside) have been preparing living trust packages for people since 1996. Living trusts are a large portion of the services they offer to their customers. Their living trust packages include trust transfer deed preparation for those who have real property they are placing into their estate planning. You can click here to learn more about their: living trust service.