Estate Planning 101

Adding a House to a Trust in Nebraska

In this blog post, we'll explore the ins and outs of adding a house to a trust in Nebraska. 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 a critical aspect of managing your wealth and ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes upon your death. One aspect of estate planning involves deciding whether to add your house to a trust. Doing so can potentially save your heirs time and money by avoiding the probate process. However, the process can be complex and may require professional guidance. In Nebraska, the laws surrounding trusts and estate planning are specific, and understanding them is key to making informed decisions. 

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

Before adding your house to a trust in Nebraska, it's important to understand the potential benefits and drawbacks. 


  1. Avoiding Probate: By placing your house in a trust, it will pass directly to your beneficiaries upon your death, bypassing the probate process. This can save time and money, as probate can be a lengthy and costly process.
  2. Privacy: A trust is a private document, unlike a will which becomes public record after your death. This means the details of your estate will not become public knowledge.
  3. Control and Flexibility: A trust, particularly a revocable living trust, provides a high level of control and flexibility. You can specify the terms of the trust, and as the trustee, you maintain control over the property during your lifetime. You can also change or revoke the trust at any time.


  1. Upfront Costs: Creating a trust can be more costly upfront than creating a will, due to the complexity of trusts and the legal assistance often required to establish them.
  2. Maintenance: Trusts require ongoing management, which can mean additional time and cost, especially if you hire a professional to manage the trust.
  3. Complexity: Trusts are more complex than wills and require 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 Nebraska

Adding a house to a trust in Nebraska involves several steps that must be followed accurately to ensure the process is completed correctly. 

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

Costs of Adding a House to a Trust in Nebraska

The costs associated with adding a house to a trust in Nebraska can vary based on several factors, including the complexity of the trust, the value of the property, and legal or trustee fees if you choose to hire a professional.

  1. Legal Fees: The cost of setting up a trust can range from a few hundred to several 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: The cost of a home appraisal in Nebraska typically ranges from $300 to $400, but can be higher for larger or more complex properties.
  3. Deed Preparation and Recording Fees: There will be a fee to prepare and record the new deed. Deed preparation costs can range from $100 to $250, and recording fees in Nebraska are typically around $10 for the first page and $6 for each additional page, but this can vary by county.
  4. Mortgage and Insurance Considerations: If your house has a mortgage, 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 for this. You'll also need to inform your homeowner's insurance company about the transfer to ensure your property remains properly insured.

Estate Taxes in Nebraska

Nebraska is one of the few states that impose its own inheritance tax. This tax is based on the relationship of the heir to the deceased and the value of the property inherited. However, property passing to a surviving spouse is exempt from this tax.

In addition to the state inheritance tax, you'll also need to consider federal estate taxes. The federal estate tax applies to estates exceeding a certain value, which for 2024, is $13.61 million for individuals and $27.22 million for married couples.

While transferring your house to a trust can provide significant benefits, it does not exempt it from federal estate taxes. The property will still be considered part of your taxable estate. However, certain types of trusts, such as an irrevocable trust, can help reduce or even eliminate federal estate tax liability.

Selling a House in a Trust in Nebraska

Selling a house in a trust is entirely possible, 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 the house 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 has the power to sell the property but must always act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. The sale proceeds would go into the trust for distribution according to the terms of the trust document.

It's also important to note that selling a house from a trust might have tax implications. For example, Nebraska imposes a capital gains tax on the sale of real estate, unless the property is the seller's primary residence.

Adding a House with a Mortgage to a Trust in Nebraska

Adding a mortgaged house to a trust in Nebraska is typically possible. The Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 prevents lenders from calling in loans or raising interest rates when a mortgaged property is transferred into a revocable living trust. This means you can continue to live in the property and make your mortgage payments as usual, but the property is now part of the trust.

However, it's important to inform your mortgage lender about the transfer. Failure to do so could potentially lead to complications down the line. Some lenders might request a copy of the trust agreement to verify that it is a revocable trust and that you are the trustee and beneficiary.

If your property is in an irrevocable trust, transferring a mortgaged property into the trust can be more complex and may require the lender's approval.

Refinancing a House in a Trust in Nebraska

Refinancing a property held in a trust can be complex, but it's not impossible. Most homeowners with properties in a trust successfully refinance their homes. They typically have to temporarily remove the property from the trust, refinance the home, and then put it back into the trust. 

During this process, it's crucial to work with a lender experienced in dealing with trusts and to inform your title insurance company about the refinance to ensure your title insurance remains valid.

Transferring a House out of a Trust in Nebraska

If you wish to remove your house from a trust, the process will depend on the type of trust. If your house is in a revocable trust, the process is generally straightforward. You, as the trustee, have the authority to transfer the property out of the trust. This involves preparing a new deed that transfers the property from the trust to your personal name or to a new owner. The deed must be signed, notarized, and then recorded with the county register of deeds.

However, if your house is in an irrevocable trust, removing it can be more complex. This type of trust cannot be altered without the consent of the beneficiaries. Therefore, transferring a property out of this type of trust typically requires agreement from all parties involved and may require court approval.

Transferring a property out of a trust can have tax implications and may affect your estate planning strategy. It's recommended to consult with a professional before making this decision.