What Does "Quit Claim to a Revocable Trust" Mean?

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A deed transfers property into the revocable trust.
A deed transfers property into the revocable trust. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A quit claim deed to a revocable trust is a legal way for transferring property title to the trustee of a revocable trust. The revocable trust is a common estate planning tool. The quit claim deed, and the revocable trust instructions, alter the terms and conditions of ownership of the property.

Quit Claim Deed

A quit claim deed is a legal document that transfers property from one owner to another. The quit claim deed transfers whatever title or interest the grantor has in the property to the grantee. Importantly, a quit claim deed includes no guarantees, covenants, representations or warranties of title. The deed simply transfers whatever the current owner has to the new owner, even if the current owner actually has no title.

Trust

A trust is a legal tool commonly used for estate planning purposes. Technically speaking, a trust splits property title into legal and equitable interests. The trustee, who is a person appointed to manage the trust and trust property, holds legal title, while the people entitled to receive distributions from the trust, call beneficiaries, hold equitable title to the trust property. The quit claim deed will identify the trustee as the grantee. The trustee holds legal title subject to the terms and conditions of the trust, which means subject to the equitable interest of the beneficiaries.

Purpose

As a general rule, the overarching purpose of creating a trust, and quit claiming property to the trust, is to avoid probate of that property after the current owner dies. Without a trust, the property will have to go through probate, which is a formal legal procedure held in state court for distribution of the property to the surviving heirs of the deceased. Transferring property to a trust helps avoid probate of that property.

Property held in the trust continues to be held in the trust even after the current owner dies, which means probate is unnecessary. The property will remain in the trust until the trustee distributes the property out of the trust according to the trust instructions. For example, the trust may provide that an heir can receive the property from the trust after that heir turns 18 years old.

Revocable

Trusts can either be revocable or irrevocable, according to the election of the person creating the trust. The creator of a revocable trust can terminate, or revoke, the trust at any time and for any reason. This means the creator can simply take the trust property back from the trustee. This is not true for an irrevocable trust. The creator of an irrevocable trust can only terminate the trust with consent from the trustee, beneficiaries or a judge.

The practical result of this distinction is that a quit claim deed to a revocable trust is a somewhat conditional transfer of property to the trust. At any time, and for any reason, the trust creator could take that property back by requiring the trustee to quit claim the property back to the creator.

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References

  • "Make Your Own Living Trust"; Denis Clifford; 2011
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