Atlanta Estate Planning, Wills & Probate | Siedentopf Law

Do I need to move my bank accounts to a trust?

Now that I’ve set up a trust, how do I move my bank accounts to a trust? How should they be connected to it?

I’m Sarah Siedentopf. I’m an estate planning and probate attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. And this is a question I get a lot.

I love to start with a quick answer but this one is not a quick answer because there’s almost no right or wrong. It’s very dependent on what you would like to do. The wrong answer is not to have it connected to the trust or automatically going to anyone after your death, but you’re here asking this question so you’re not making that choice.

With trust planning, one of the major goals is to make sure that everything avoids probate, and so your bank account either needs to be owned by your trust. So we would go to the bank, have them change the paperwork from, you know, from me to me as trustee of my trust. They’ll have forms to fill out. It’ll, you know, change what your bank statements say. If you still write checks, it’ll, you know say trust on your checks. So you’ll see, and the bank will be able to see everyone will be able to see this account is owned by a trust.

The benefit of this is that if something happens to you and you’re alive but unable to continue as trustee, whoever steps in, whoever you’ve chosen as your backup trustee will have access to this money for you. Of course, you can always have a power of attorney who would have access to the money if it was outside the trust. So it’s not the only way to have access to the money during your lifetime if you can’t do it.

The other choice is to make your trust a payable on death beneficiary. And in that case, it’s again, paperwork with the bank. Most banks do allow payable and death beneficiaries and you just set the trust up that way. Now, that’s not always what you want to do because by the time we’re getting to payable on death beneficiaries, you might say, you know what? My kids are, you know, 45 and 47, let’s send it straight to the kids. Often, that’s totally fine.

The reason you would set it up going into the trust is for long-term management or if there are minors involved or something like that. So it’s very, you know, situation dependent, preference dependent, and again, there’s usually no wrong answers other than doing nothing. As long as you have thought through it and decided and have a rationale for what you’re doing, you are probably on the right track.

Commonly Asked Questions About Moving Bank Accounts Into a Trust:

Should I put all my bank accounts into my trust?

It can be advantageous to put most or all of your bank accounts into your trust, especially if you want to streamline estate administration, maintain privacy, and ensure assets are distributed according to your wishes. However, consult with a legal and financial advisor to assess your specific situation.

How do I transfer money from my bank account to my trust?

To transfer money from your bank account to your trust, you typically need to contact your bank and provide them with the necessary documentation, such as a copy of the trust agreement and a request for transfer. The bank may have specific procedures for transferring assets to a trust, so it’s advisable to inquire about their requirements.

What type of bank account is best for a trust?

The type of bank account that is best for a trust depends on your goals and preferences. Many people choose to open a checking or savings account in the name of the trust to manage trust assets and facilitate transactions. Some banks also offer specialized trust accounts with features tailored to the needs of trustees.

Can I make my trust the beneficiary of my bank account?

Yes, you can make your trust the beneficiary of your bank account by designating the trust as the beneficiary on the account’s beneficiary designation form. This allows the assets in the account to pass directly to the trust upon your death, avoiding probate and ensuring they are managed according to the trust terms. Consult with your bank to ensure proper documentation and procedures are followed.

If you’ve got more questions about how to move your bank accounts to a trust, I would love to hear from you and also please like and subscribe.

Whether you’re in the Atlanta and Brookhaven areas, or in Cobb, DeKalb , Fulton, Gwinnett, or another county in metro Atlanta, we can help you. We can also work with executors by phone or video conference if they are out of state or far away. Only after listening carefully will we present the options that are right for you and explore the benefits and costs of each one. 

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