How do I transfer my personal property to my trust?
One of the primary objectives of using a revocable living trust is probate avoidance; however, this requires re-titling assets in the name of the trust so that others understand that those assets are to be handled pursuant to the terms of your trust. But what does one do for personal items such as jewelry or furniture? These assets generally have no formal registry or records indicating the ownership of the items.
For personal items, estate planning lawyers usually apply some form of "General Assignment" that evidences one's intent to transfer his personal items to the trustee of his trust. By doing so, one can provide instructions on how personal property should be distributed directly in the trust document.
By allowing the trust provisions to govern the disposition of personal property, a Trustor can easily modify the distributions by simply creating an amendment to his trust, which neither requires witnesses nor notarization. Alternatively, if one were to dispose of his personal items by Will or a codicil to his Will, the modification would have to follow the formal witnessing procedures associated with creating a valid Will or codicil.
For the most part, personal property tends to be handled fairly informally because the items are generally of very little value and therefore not worth fighting over. Nevertheless, handling personal property through the trust can reduce potential complications for the successor Trustee of your trust in the future.