People create trusts for a variety of reasons; to avoid probate, to protect a home from a nursing home spend down, to protect a child's inheritance from creditors/predators, etc. For a trust to fulfill its intended purpose, it has to be funded. Funding is the processing of changing ownership of assets (anything with a deed, title or account number) so that the rules of a trust apply to those assets.
To fund a financial account, such as a checking account, brokerage account or insurance policy to a trust, your financial institutions must be informed that you created a trust and that it is your desire to change the owner and/or beneficiary of the account/policy at that institution. This is accomplished by preparing a letter of instruction or completing company-specific forms that are sent the institution indicating the changes to be made. For example, you may indicate that the ownership of your bank account is to be changed from you personally to you as trustee of your trust. Along with the letter of instruction, most institutions also require specific pages from your trust that show the names of the creators of the trust, the date it was created, names of the current trustees and the successor trustees. In addition, a trust memorandum is also sent to show that the current trustee has the power to make the requested change of ownership or beneficiary.
Funding can be complex and, for most of us, should not be a do-it-yourself project. Make sure that your attorney includes funding all of your assets to your trust(s) as part of your fee. The attorneys at Cooper, Adel & Associates fund the trusts we prepare for our clients. We would be happy to do the same for you. Give us a call if we can assist.