How do I retitle everything I own in DC?
August 17, 2007 7:49 AM   Subscribe

On the advice of my attorney, I have created a living trust to be the official owner of all my possessions. That way, when I die, Sra. and Baby Carp don't have to wait for stuff to go through probate. The one part I am missing is that I have to put all real estate, financial accounts, and vehicles into the name of the trust. The accounts are easy, but I can't find where to change the title to our house in DC or to our vehicles, also in DC. So, how do I go about re-titling, well, everything?
posted by carpographer to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would have thought the lawyer (who gave you the advice and probably set up the trust) would have told you how to do that. In any event that's who I would ask if I were you.
posted by ilsa at 8:03 AM on August 17, 2007

Your attorney should do that for you.
posted by Nelson at 8:14 AM on August 17, 2007

Huh. The lawyer indicated that I would have to be doing that. Could it be that he is in MD, and I am in DC? It was also expensive to set up the trust, so if it is possible to do myself, I would prefer to not have to go back to him.
posted by carpographer at 8:20 AM on August 17, 2007

Your title company can help you re-name the title (I apologize if that sounds obvious). Ours has always been very responsive.

Retitling the car should be as simple as re-registering it with DMV - easy enough to add another person to the registration, for example, but it might not be that easy to add a legal entity. Still, they have probably dealt with this before, invest the Hold time and hope you get a straight answer.

I too am surprised the atty didn't have detailed advice for you on this.
posted by nkknkk at 8:24 AM on August 17, 2007

um, that should say "call them and invest the Hold time," otherwise that doesn't make much sense. Sorry.
posted by nkknkk at 8:24 AM on August 17, 2007

I think you need to consult a different attorney. First, I am not so sure a living trust is the best way to merely avoid probate. Second, this is something you really want your lawyer to hold your hand through every step. Time for a second opinion.
posted by caddis at 8:35 AM on August 17, 2007

Before you move anything to the trust, please consider getting a second opinion on the whole setup, ideally from someone who is familiar with end-of-life planning in your area but not in a position to sell you something. (A fee-only financial planner with older customers would be ideal; a lawyer who you tell up front you will not hire to handle your estate-planning needs could also work.)

IANAL and I know little of DC, but I have seen living trusts aggressively marketed to people who would get little or no value out of the arrangement. The fact that you cite assets passing to your wife without probate as being a major benefit when that can be arranged through other, cheaper methods in most jurisdictions gives me pause.

(Also, are you sure this lawyer was licensed in DC?)
posted by backupjesus at 8:41 AM on August 17, 2007

Thanks for the answers. I will definitely look at getting a second opinion. If anyone has a recommendation in the DC area, my email is in my profile, or if you know how to find someone good, same thing.

I will also talk to the title company that I used when I bought my house, and to the DMV.

The trust was set up before there was a Sra. Carp, as a result of my inheriting money from my father after his death. He had just received his retirement settlement from where he worked as a lump sum (it was actually in transit when he died). Because of the timing and how his will was set up, something over 85% of his assets went to taxes*. The moral of the story is to make sure you have things set up before you go if you have any significant assets.

Because of that, I have been excessively paranoid about my own estate planning, setting up the living trust a few years ago, but not being conscientious enough to do the title transfers until now, with Baby Carp on the way.

The lawyer came with the estate, so I just used him. It seemed easier at the time, since there was a lot of other crap happening.

Anyway, the gist of all that is that the trust is set up and that is a sunk cost, so I might as well plan on using it absent a second opinion to the contrary.



* The best part was when I was told that I was lucky that was all the taxes that had to be paid; in some states, taxes came to over 100% of the estate, and had I been in one of those states I would have had to declare bankruptcy to avoid paying the taxes on the inheritance.
posted by carpographer at 10:55 AM on August 17, 2007

the title to our house in DC or to our vehicles

Why would these assets go through probate at all if Sra. Carp is already on the titles? Wouldn't she just inherit as a joint owner? (But perhaps you're using the "our" to describe how you think of the property and not as a legal description.)
posted by cocoagirl at 11:17 AM on August 17, 2007

Yes, they are titled separately, but we both consider them ours, or at least I do, and Sra Carp lets me use her much nicer car when I want. :)
posted by carpographer at 11:52 AM on August 17, 2007

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