Real estate includes your house, condo, vacation home, commercial building, and similar properties.
Generally, a person who has a revocable trust will want that trust to be the owner and/or beneficiary of most of his/her assets: the purposes of the trust are served only as to the assets in or payable to the trust. Real estate is often one of the assets that should be owned by the trust. (Note: There are circumstances under which it is not advisable to transfer real estate to a revocable trust, for example, if the real estate is Florida homestead property.)
To transfer Virginia real estate to a revocable trust, the legal owner(s) of the real estate need to (1) sign a new deed, and (2) record the new deed. (Note: a will can transfer real estate to a revocable trust; however, the purposes for which the trust was created–perhaps the avoidance of probate and the management of assets during incapacity–might not be accomplished if the property passes to the trust by will.) (Another note: recording isn’t actually required to transfer real estate, but it’s a best practice in many circumstances.)
Preparing the deed.
The requirements for a valid deed vary by state, but, basically, a deed (1) describes the real estate being transferred, (2) names the former owner (e.g., the individual or couple) and new owner (the trustee(s) of the revocable trust(s)), (3) says that and how the property is being transferred from the former owner to the new owner, and (4) is signed by the former owner. Deeds have to meet certain form and content requirements (which vary by state) and often contain traditional language. Virginia deeds to revocable trusts might say something about the powers of the trustee, name successor trustees, or be signed by the trustees.
Recording the deed.
In Virginia, the clerks of the circuit courts keep the land records. Submitting a deed for recording involves sending the signed deed, a check for the recording fees, and possibly other items (like this Fairfax County cover sheet, a cover letter, and a return envelope) to the clerk’s office for the city or county in which the land is located. The clerk’s office does the recording.
In addition to notifying (or seeking the permission of) any mortgage lenders, a person transferring real estate to a revocable trust may need to update his/her owner’s title insurance policy and homeowner’s insurance policy. There may be charges for these insurance updates. To avoid unpleasant surprises, it may be worthwhile to discuss possible increases in insurance premiums with the insurance carrier before making the transfer.