Online Trust How to Describe Trust Property

When we ask you to list the property you want to hold in trust, describe each item clearly enough so that the surviving trustee or successor trustee can identify the property and transfer it to the right person. No magic legal words are required.

Think about whom the property will ultimately go to. If you're leaving everything to one person, or just a few, there's less need to go into great detail. But if there will be a number of trust beneficiaries and objects could be confused, be more specific about each one. When in doubt, err on the side of including more information; describe particularly valuable items in detail, much as you would if you were listing them on an insurance policy.

Rules for Entering Descriptions of Trust Property

  • Don't use "my" or "our" in a description. Don't, for example, enter "my books" or "my stereo system." That's because once the property is in the living trust, it doesn't belong to you anymore -- it belongs to the trust.
  • Don't begin a description with a capital letter (unless it must begin with a proper name, like "Steinway"). That's because the description will be inserted into a sentence in the trust document, and it would look odd to see a capital letter in the middle of a sentence.
  • Don't end a description with a period. Again, this is because the description will be inserted into a sentence in the trust document.

Here are some sample descriptions:

Real estate

  • "the house at 321 Glen St., Omaha, NE"
  • "the house at 4444 Casey Road, Fandon, Illinois, and the 20-acre parcel on which it is located"

Usually, the street address is enough. It's not necessary to use the "legal description" found on the deed, which gives a subdivision plat number or a metes-and-bounds description. But if the property has no street address -- for example, if it is undeveloped land out in the country -- you will need to carefully copy the full legal description, word for word, from the deed.

If you own a house and several adjacent lots, it's a good idea to indicate that you are transferring the entire parcel to your living trust by describing the land as well as the house.

If you own the property with someone else and are transferring only your share, you don't need to specify the share you own. Just describe the property. The trust document will show that you are transferring all your interest in the property, whatever share that is, to the living trust.

Bank accounts

  • "Savings Account No. 9384-387, Arlington Bank, Arlington, MN"
  • "Money Market Account 47-223 at Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., San Francisco, CA"

Household items

  • "all the furniture normally kept in the house at 44123 Derby Ave., Ross, KY"
  • "the antique brass bed in the master bedroom in the house at 33 Walker Ave., Fort Lee, New Jersey"
  • "all furniture and household items normally kept in the house at 869 Hopkins St., Great Falls, Montana"

Sole proprietorship business property

  • "Mulligan's Fish Market"
  • "Fourth Street Records and CDs"
  • "all accounts receivable of the business known as Garcia's Restaurant, 988 17th St., Atlanta, GA"
  • "all food preparation and storage equipment, including refrigerator, freezer, hand mixers and slicer, used at Garcia's Restaurant, 988 17th St., Atlanta, GA"

As explained in Decide What Property to Hold in Trust, you should both list the name of the business and separately list items of business property.

Partnership interest

  • "Don and Dan's Bait Shop Partnership owned by the grantor before being held in this living trust"

Because a partnership is a legal entity that can own property, you don't need to list items of property owned by the partnership.

Shares in a closely held corporation

  • "The stock of ABC Hardware, Inc."

Shares in a solely owned corporation

  • "all shares in the XYZ Corporation"
  • "all stock in Fern's Olde Antique Shoppe, Inc., 23 Turnbridge Court, Danbury, Connecticut"

Securities

  • "all securities in account No. 3999-34-33 at Smith Brokerage, 33 Lowell Place, New York, NY"
  • "200 shares of General Industries, Inc. stock"
  • "Good Investment Co. mutual fund account No. 888-09-09"

Life insurance proceeds

  • "the proceeds of Acme Co. Life Insurance Policy #9992A"

Miscellaneous items

  • "Macintosh laptop computer (serial number 129311)"
  • "the medical textbooks in the office at 1702 Parker Towers, San Francisco, CA"
  • "the stamp collection usually kept at 321 Glen St., Omaha, NE"
  • "the collection of European stamps, including [describe particularly valuable stamps], usually kept at 440 Loma Prieta Blvd., #450, San Jose, CA"
  • "the Martin D-35 acoustic guitar, serial number 477597"
  • "the signed 1960 Ernie Banks baseball card kept in safe deposit box 234, First National Bank of Augusta, Augusta, IL"
  • "the Baldwin upright piano kept at 985 Dawson Court, South Brenly, Massachusetts"

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