Estate Planning 101

Adding a House to a Trust in Maine

In this blog post, we'll explore the ins and outs of adding a house to a trust in Maine. We'll delve into the benefits and drawbacks, discuss the costs involved, and provide a clear, step-by-step guide on how to navigate the process. We'll also address key topics such as estate taxes, selling a house in a trust, dealing with mortgages, refinancing, and transferring out of a trust.
April 10, 2024

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Estate planning is an essential aspect of financial management, and one of its core components is setting up a trust. Adding your house to a trust can be a strategic move to streamline estate management, avoid probate, and ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes. This blog post will guide you through the process of adding a house to a trust in Maine and shed light on the benefits, drawbacks, and costs involved.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Adding a House to a Trust in Maine

Before adding a house to a trust in Maine, it's important to understand the potential advantages and disadvantages.


  1. Avoiding Probate: One of the main benefits of placing your house in a trust is the ability to avoid probate. Probate can be time-consuming and costly. By holding your house in a trust, it can pass directly to your beneficiaries upon your death, bypassing the probate process.
  2. Privacy: A trust is a private document, unlike a will, which becomes public record after your death. This ensures the details of your estate remain confidential.
  3. Control and Flexibility: A trust, particularly a revocable living trust, offers a high degree of control and flexibility. You can specify the terms of the trust, and as the trustee, you can manage the property as you see fit during your lifetime. You can also amend or revoke the trust at any time.


  1. Upfront Costs: Establishing a trust can be more costly upfront than drafting a will due to the complexity of the document and the legal assistance required to set it up.
  2. Maintenance: Trusts require ongoing management, which could mean additional time and cost, especially if you hire a professional to manage the trust.
  3. Complexity: Trusts are more complex than wills, requiring more effort to set up and manage. You'll need to transfer the title of your house to the trust after it's established.

The Process of Adding a House to a Trust in Maine

Adding a house to a trust in Maine involves several steps, which must be followed accurately to ensure a smooth process.

  1. Create a Trust: The first step is to create a trust document, which outlines the terms of the trust, including the beneficiaries and what happens to the property upon your death. This can be done using an online estate planning service or by working with an attorney.
  2. Property Appraisal: Before transferring your property into a trust, it may be beneficial to have it appraised to determine its current market value.
  3. Title Transfer: Next, you'll need to transfer the title of your house to the trust. This involves drafting a new deed with the name of the trust as the grantee. In Maine, the deed must be signed in the presence of a notary public.
  4. Record the Deed: After the deed is signed and notarized, it should be recorded with the county registry of deeds where the property is located.
  5. Notify Your Mortgage Lender and Insurance Company: Finally, inform your mortgage lender and insurance company about the change in ownership.

Costs of Adding a House to a Trust in Maine

The costs involved in adding a house to a trust in Maine can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the trust, the value of the property, and the attorney's fees if you choose to hire one.

  1. Legal Fees: The cost of setting up a trust can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on whether you use an online service, a document preparation service, or an attorney. If you hire an attorney, you can expect to pay an hourly rate, which can range from $200 to $500 per hour.
  2. Property Appraisal Fees: To determine the current market value of your home, you may need to hire a professional appraiser. The cost of a home appraisal in Maine typically ranges from $300 to $400, but it can be higher for larger or more complex properties.
  3. Deed Preparation and Recording Fees: The cost to prepare and record the new deed can vary. Deed preparation can cost between $100 to $250, and recording fees in Maine are typically around $15 per page, with most deeds being one to two pages long.
  4. Mortgage and Insurance Considerations: If your house is mortgaged, you'll need to notify your lender that you're transferring the property to a trust. Depending on the lender, there may be a fee associated with this. Additionally, you'll need to inform your homeowner's insurance company about the transfer. Although this shouldn't result in additional costs, it's essential to ensure your property remains properly insured.

Estate Taxes in Maine

It's also important to consider the tax implications when adding a house to a trust. Maine has its own estate tax separate from the federal estate tax. For 2024, estates with a total value of more than $5.9 million are subject to the Maine estate tax. The federal estate tax applies to estates exceeding $13.61 million for individuals and $27.22 million for married couples.

While transferring your house to a trust doesn't exempt it from estate taxes, certain types of trusts, such as an irrevocable trust, can help reduce your estate tax liability.

Selling a House in a Trust in Maine

Selling a house in a trust in Maine is entirely possible and fairly straightforward, but the process can vary depending on the type of trust. If the trust is a revocable living trust, and you're the trustee, you can sell the property just as you would if it were not in a trust. The proceeds from the sale would then go into the trust.

However, if you're not the trustee, or if the trust is irrevocable, the trustee would carry out the sale process and the sale proceeds would go into the trust for distribution according to the terms set out in the trust document. It's also important to note that selling a house from a trust might have tax implications, such as capital gains tax.

Adding a House with a Mortgage to a Trust in Maine

If your house is still under a mortgage, you can still transfer a mortgaged house into a trust. In Maine, lenders cannot call in loans or raise interest rates when a mortgaged property is transferred into a revocable living trust, thanks to the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982. However, it's crucial to inform your mortgage lender about the transfer. In the case of an irrevocable trust, transferring a mortgaged property might require the lender's approval.

Refinancing a House in a Trust in Maine

Refinancing a property held in a trust can be a bit more complex than a standard refinance. Most lenders want to deal directly with the property owner, and when a home is in a trust, the trust owns the property. However, you can still refinance by temporarily removing the property from the trust, refinancing the home, and then putting it back into the trust. It's crucial during this process to work with a lender experienced in dealing with trusts and to ensure your title insurance remains valid.

Transferring a House out of a Trust in Maine

If you need to remove your house from a trust, the process will depend on the type of trust. If it's a revocable trust, you can transfer the property out of the trust by preparing a new deed that transfers the property from the trust to your personal name or to a new owner. However, if the trust is irrevocable, removing the property can be more complex and may require the consent of the beneficiaries and potentially court approval.