Estate Planning 101

Adding a House to a Trust in South Dakota

In this blog post, we'll explore the ins and outs of adding a house to a trust in South Dakota. 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 crucial aspect of securing your family's future, and creating a trust is a significant part of this process. In South Dakota, the laws surrounding trusts are unique and understanding them is essential when planning your estate. One of the most common assets people consider when setting up a trust is their home. Adding your house to a trust can provide numerous benefits, but it's important to understand the process and potential implications. Here, we'll guide you through the key considerations and steps involved in adding a house to a trust in South Dakota.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Adding a House to a Trust in South Dakota

Before deciding to add your house to a trust in South Dakota, it's crucial to understand the potential benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits:

  1. Avoiding Probate: One of the main advantages of adding your house to a trust is to avoid probate. Probate can be a lengthy and costly process, but any property in a trust bypasses this process, making it easier for your beneficiaries.
  2. Privacy: Unlike a will, a trust is not made public upon your death. This means the details of your estate, including who inherits your property, remain private.
  3. Control: A trust allows you to control how your assets are distributed after your death. You can set conditions on inheritance and even set up a plan for your property's management if you become incapacitated.

Drawbacks:

  1. Cost: Setting up a trust is typically more expensive than drafting a will. This is due to the complexity of trusts and the legal expertise required to set them up properly.
  2. Maintenance: Unlike a will, a trust requires ongoing management. This can involve additional time and costs.
  3. Complexity: Trusts are more complex than wills and require careful planning and management. You'll need to formally transfer the title of your house to the trust, which can be a complex process.

The Process of Adding a House to a Trust in South Dakota

The process of adding a house to a trust in South Dakota involves several steps that need to be followed accurately to ensure a smooth transfer.

  1. Create a Trust: The first step is to create a trust. This involves drafting a trust agreement that outlines the terms of the trust, including the trustee, beneficiaries, and what happens to the property upon your death.
  2. Property Appraisal: Before you can transfer your property into a trust, you may need to have it appraised to determine its current market value.
  3. Title Transfer: The next step is to transfer the title of your property to the trust. This involves drafting a new deed with the trust's name as the grantee. The deed must be signed and notarized.
  4. Record the Deed: After the deed is signed and notarized, it should be recorded with the county recorder's office in the county where the property is located.
  5. Notify Your Mortgage Lender and Insurance Company: Finally, notify your mortgage lender and insurance company about the change in ownership.

Costs of Adding a House to a Trust in South Dakota

The costs of adding a house to a trust in South Dakota can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the trust, the value of the property, and any legal fees.

  1. Legal Fees: The cost of setting up a trust can range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on whether you use an online service, a document preparation service, or hire an attorney.
  2. Property Appraisal Fees: A professional appraisal to determine the current market value of your home can cost between $300 and $400.
  3. Deed Preparation and Recording Fees: There will be a charge to prepare and record the new deed. The cost can range from $100 to $250 for deed preparation, and recording fees 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. There may be a fee associated with this. Additionally, you'll need to inform your homeowner's insurance company about the transfer to ensure your property remains properly insured.

Estate Taxes in South Dakota

South Dakota is one of the few states that does not impose its own estate or inheritance tax. However, while there may be no state taxes, the federal estate tax still applies to estates exceeding a certain value. Transferring your house to a trust does not exempt it from federal estate taxes. The property will still be considered part of your taxable estate. However, certain types of trusts can help reduce or even eliminate federal estate tax liability.

Selling a House in a Trust in South Dakota

Selling a house that's in a trust is entirely possible and is a fairly straightforward process. However, the process can vary depending on the type of trust. For a revocable trust, as the trustee, you can sell the property just as you would if the house were not in a trust. For an irrevocable trust, the trustee does have the power to sell the property, but they must always act in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

Adding a House with a Mortgage to a Trust in South Dakota

If your house is still under a mortgage, you can still transfer it into a trust. However, it's crucial to inform your mortgage lender about the transfer. Some lenders might request a copy of the trust agreement to verify that it is indeed a revocable trust and that you are the trustee and beneficiary.

Refinancing a House in a Trust in South Dakota

Refinancing a property held in a trust can be a bit more complex than a standard refinance. However, it's not impossible and can be done with proper guidance. You may need to temporarily remove the property from the trust, refinance the home, and then put it back into the trust.

Transferring a House out of a Trust in South Dakota

There may come a time when you wish to remove your house from a trust. The process for doing so will depend on the type of trust. If your house is in a revocable trust, the process is straightforward. However, if your house is in an irrevocable trust, removing it can be more complex and may require the consent of the beneficiaries and possibly court approval.