It is a simple matter to open or transfer a bank account into your living revocable trust. In this video Lee Phillips explains the many benefits of using living revocable trusts…
Assuming you are using your living revocable trust to avoid probate, the assets (which require your signature to transfer or sell) need to be “owned” by the trust. This includes checking and savings accounts, plus safe deposit boxes.
You should have a “Certification of Trust” or a summary of the trust that proves you established the trust. That summary is probably all you need to take to the bank, but just to be safe, take the complete trust.
If the accounts person knows what they are doing, they will have you simply fill out a new signature card for the account. The trust will be listed as the owner of the account. You will check the box or indicate that this is going to be a trust account, and you will sign your name with the designation “Trustee” after your name. If your spouse or someone else is also designated as a trustee, then they should sign the signature card as co-trustee. Of course, you would also be signing as co-trustee. The card should ask how many signatures are required on checks. You will usually only have one signature required.
Make sure you include all three parts of the trust’s name: Name of trust, date the trust was established, and the name of the trustee (you).
The bank will ask for a Tax ID number for the trust. They want to know who is going to get the 1099 on the interest earned. The trust’s tax ID is your Social Security number. Your trust is what the IRS calls a “grantor” trust. IT DOESN’T NEED AND SHOULDN’T GET A TAX ID NUMBER.
You should not need to give them two Social Security numbers, if there are two trustees. Who will pay the tax? Just one of you needs to pay the tax.
If the account’s person has no clue what they are doing, ask to talk to the bank’s attorney. One credit union insisted on a Tax ID for the trust. We couldn’t convince them otherwise. We moved $1.5 million to another credit union that understood about trusts.
You shouldn’t have to print new checks. Just use the old ones. The account number shouldn’t change, so the old checks should still work.
If the bank doesn’t like the Certification of Trust they may take a copy of the trust. They usually only copy the first couple of pages in addition to the trustees sections, the powers of trustees, and the signature page (which is what the Certification of Trust contains). They need to establish the trust is real, who the successor trustees are and what their powers are. They will keep the copy in your file at the bank. That way they know what to expect after you die and are no longer the acting trustee.
The savings accounts and safe deposit box should be handled about the same way. If you don’t have a problem with the checking account, the savings and safe deposit box will go down easily.