Should a Living Trust Include a Declaration of Intent?

Standard Legal does not include a Declaration of Intent with its Living Trust legal forms software. For good reason.

To be effective, a Living Trust must be properly funded: property must be transferred to the Trustee of the Trust. For example, transferring real property to the Trust via deed, or creating bank accounts in the name of the Trustee of the Trust, vehicles titled in the name of the Trustee of the Trust, etc.

If such actions are not taken, the Trust will still be a valid legal document, but the Trust will not “own” the property at the time of the Grantor’s death.

As a result, probate will not be avoided.

Some individuals create a document called a Declaration of Intent to indicate that they wish to transfer property to a Trust. This Declaration may take the form of a signed document or even a Pour-Over Will, by which a Trust could be funded at the death of the Grantor.

But, with a Declaration of Intent or a Pour-Over Will, a probate proceeding would be required after the Grantor’s death to transfer the property to the previously unfunded Trust.

This process tends to void the effectiveness or the purpose of a Trust.

So instead of adding these extra time-consuming and costly steps, Standard Legal’s Trust documents are provided with instructions on how the Trust can completed and properly funded upon signature. That way, the signed Trust is not only a valid legal document, but a document effective in avoiding the probate process as well.