Transferring Property into a Living Trust

Transferring property into a living trust: Have an attorney prepare a deed of conveyance to change the ownership of the home.

By Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin

Q: My mother bought her home in 1968 but doesn’t remember where the title or deed is. She has the release of mortgage paperwork. Is this the same thing as her title? What documents do we need to put the property into her living trust?

Can’t Find Title or Deed to Home

A: Fifty years is a long time to live in the same home and we wouldn’t necessarily expect our readers to be able to put their hands on the title document to their home after all that time.

When your mother purchased her home, the seller’s attorney or the settlement agent would have drafted a warranty deed or other document to convey the seller’s ownership interest in the home to your mom.

At the closing or settlement, the closing agent would have sent the deed to the local recorder of deed’s office (or other office that takes care of the filing or recording of local real estate transactions). Once the document gets to that office, the filing office records or files the deed and then mails it back to the new owner of the property.

Sometime around a half century ago, your mother received a letter in the mail with the original deed for the purchase of her home. Some homeowners, but not all, might still have that document all these years later.

Documents Needed for Living Trust

The good news is your mother doesn’t need to worry. She doesn’t need the original document to sell her home or to transfer her ownership interest into a living trust.

Selling a home is different from selling a car. With a car, you need the original title document issued by the state to complete the transaction, which you’ll then sign over to the new buyer.

When you sell a home, you need to prepare a new document that will convey your ownership interest in the home to the new buyer, but you don’t need the original deed to do that.

You mentioned that your mom has the release of mortgage from her old lender. That’s a good thing as it shows that she paid off the old loan in full and that the lender released any hold it may have had to the title. However, the fact there is a mortgage lender’s lien on the home does not change the fact that your mom owned and still owns the home.

Transferring Property into a Living Trust

Here’s how to transfer assets into your living trust: Have the attorney who drafted the living trust, or a real estate or estate attorney prepare a deed of conveyance to change the ownership of the home from your mom’s own name to the name of her living trust.

Depending on where you live, you might have other paperwork to fill out to transfer ownership of the home, including transfer tax documents, exemption certificates, local certifications, or other documents. You may also have to pay filing fees or other fees to complete the transfer.

Good luck and thanks for writing to us and reading our column.

©2021 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin.