What documents do I need (other than the County's "Preliminary Change of Ownership Report") to transfer our home in Gold River into our family trust? Can I do this without an attorney? Also, what is the best way to do the same for a rental home and 1.2-acre lot in Asheville, North Carolina?
Don, Gold River
A: In order to transfer your home into your trust, you will need to prepare and sign a Trust Transfer Deed for California. You may be able to find this form online.
You will also need to have the current deed for your property. If you do not have this document among your important papers, you can obtain a copy from the Sacramento County Recorder's Office.
The Trust Transfer Deed will need to show that title is being transferred from the current titleholders to the trustees of your family trust. For example, if the current deed shows that title is in the names of "John Jones and Mary Jones, husband and wife," the Trust Transfer Deed will need to show that they are transferring title to "John Jones and Mary Jones, co-trustees of the Jones Family Trust."
Please note that this is an example only and you need to tailor the Trust Transfer Deed to your own personal situation. It is important to transfer title to the co-trustees, not to the trust itself. My law partner and I have even seen transfer deeds prepared by attorneys with this mistake.
As you have already discovered, you will also need to submit the Preliminary Change of Ownership Report when you record the transfer deed with the Sacramento County Recorder's Office.
You can certainly do this without an attorney. However, if you want to be absolutely certain that title is correctly transferred, an experienced probate attorney should be able to handle this for a reasonable fee.
As to your North Carolina property, you would need to contact an attorney in North Carolina concerning transfer of that property. Although their laws may be similar, you want to be sure that the correct documents are prepared and submitted.