How to Transfer a Home Into a Living Trust

Will a living trust always help a home owner avoid probate? 

Q: I am trying to help my dad transfer his home into a living trust. He will maintain the home as his primary residence. We want to put the home into a living trust to avoid probate after his death. My father has recently taken ill. While we hope it isn’t a long-term thing, he cannot leave the house.

I would like to sign the deed of conveyance using my durable power of attorney. I went to our bank today and they told me that they needed my dad to come in and sign the document in person, but he can’t physically do that.

My sister and I have full powers of attorney for healthcare and financial matters. We should be able to make these necessary moves.

Execute a Living Trust After Death

How do I word the document and the signature line to reflect the act under the power of attorney? Do I add my name to the signature line and the declaration where the notary signs to say I was there in person instead of him? It seems to be defeating the purpose of the durable power of attorney if I can’t sign the document for him. Do you have any suggestions?

A: We understand why your bank was hesitant to assist you with the documentation. For one, they are not attorneys who can assist in filling out the document. Second, they would likely not want to get involved if a child was trying to do something that could undermine their parent’s wishes, especially when they know he’s alive.

Will, Living Trust and Power of Attorney: Which Do I Need?

One option: look for a notary service that can come to your dad’s home. If you hire a notary, the notary will witness your dad sign the document. Then, the notary will notarize it.

Do you need some help? You’re trying to do this on your own. We wonder if you should hire a real estate attorney, estate attorney or settlement agent to assist you in transferring ownership of your dad’s home into a living trust. Do you have a living trust prepared and signed by your father? If not, you can’t transfer the home into a living trust that does not exist.

If you do have a living trust prepared and signed by your dad, have you contacted the attorney that drafted the living trust for your dad? That attorney can assist you in getting the deed signed and notarized. After, the attorney can record or file it in the government office that handles the recording or filing of real estate documents.

Can You Sell a Home in a Living Trust?

You want to get it done right. Which makes sense. It’ll be a lot easier for you after your dad passes away. When documents are prepared or recorded incorrectly, the process can get messed up. And, if the documents aren’t recorded at all, everything will unravel for you at the worst possible moment.

Here’s what you do to convey your father’s home into his living trust:

  1. If the trust is already drafted, find a copy.
  2. But if there is no trust, then have one drafted and signed by your dad
  3. Next, prepare a deed. Or, hire an attorney to prepare it for you.
  4. The deed must convey the home from your dad’s name into the name of the living trust.
  5. The document should have your dad’s information as the grantor.
  6. It will also need to list the grantee for the property.

The deed must contain the following:

  • The legal description for the home.
  • Post office address for the home
  • The tax parcel identification number
  • Name of the person that prepared the deed
  • The address to send the deed after recording or filing it.
  • Your father’s signature.
  • The witness(s) signatures.

Transferring a Home Into a Living Trust

Here’s what you have to do to sign the deed under the power of attorney:

  1. Sign your dad’s name.
  2. Follow that with your signature.
  3. After your signature, write the words “as attorney in fact.”
  4. Include other language required in your state.
  5. Record the original power of attorney or
  6. File it with the deed to show that the person signing the document actually had authority to sign it.

We hope this information helps you and we encourage you to find someone to assist you with the process. Thanks for your question.

Sign up for Ilyce Glink’s free newsletter: Love, Money + Real Estate

©2024 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. A1625