Estate Planning 101

Funding a Trust in Oregon

In this blog post, we will guide you through the various steps involved in funding a trust in Oregon. We'll cover the types of assets you can use, how to transfer different kinds of assets into the trust, and the state-specific regulations you need to be aware of. We'll also discuss the potential tax implications and the importance of maintaining your trust over time.
April 10, 2024

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Estate planning is a crucial part of managing your financial affairs and safeguarding your family's future. Trusts are a popular estate planning tool, offering a range of benefits such as probate avoidance, tax efficiencies, and greater control over how your assets are used and distributed after your death. However, establishing a trust is just the first step. It's equally important to fund the trust by transferring your assets into it. Without this crucial step, the trust is merely an empty shell without any practical effect.

In Oregon, there are specific processes and requirements for funding a trust, depending on the type of trust and the type of asset. Whether you're establishing a revocable living trust, an irrevocable trust, or another type of trust, understanding how to fund your trust is essential. This guide will walk you through the process of funding a trust in Oregon and provide valuable insights to help you navigate this important aspect of estate planning.

Types of Trust

Before we delve into the process of funding a trust, it's important to understand the different types of trusts that can be established in Oregon. Each type of trust serves different purposes and offers distinct advantages, depending on your specific estate planning needs.

  1. Revocable Living Trust: This type of trust is popular for its flexibility and control. As the name suggests, it's revocable, meaning you can change or dissolve it at any time during your lifetime. You retain control over the assets in the trust and can add or remove assets as you wish. Upon your death, the assets in the trust are distributed to your beneficiaries without going through probate.
  2. Irrevocable Trust: This type of trust cannot be changed or dissolved without the consent of the beneficiaries. Once you transfer assets into an irrevocable trust, you effectively give up control over those assets. This can provide significant tax benefits and protect the assets from creditors.
  3. Charitable Trust: This trust is designed to provide an income stream to a charity of your choice for a certain period, with the remaining assets going to your beneficiaries. It offers significant tax advantages.
  4. Special Needs Trust: This trust provides financial support for a loved one with special needs, without affecting their eligibility for government benefits.
  5. Testamentary Trust: This trust is created through your will and only becomes active after your death. It provides a level of control over how your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries.
  6. Asset Protection Trust: This trust is designed to protect your assets from creditors. However, Oregon does not currently allow self-settled asset protection trusts, which means you cannot be a discretionary beneficiary of a trust you establish for asset protection purposes.

How to Fund a Living Trust

If you've chosen to establish a revocable living trust, which is a common choice due to its flexibility and control, here's a step-by-step guide on how to fund it.

  1. List Your Assets: Begin by making a comprehensive list of your assets. This includes real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, business interests, personal property, and other investments. To reap the benefits of a trust, you need to transfer all your significant assets into it.
  2. Create a Trust Agreement: With the help of an estate planning attorney or an online estate planning service like Snug, create a trust agreement. This document will include details such as the name of the trust, trustee, successor trustee, and beneficiaries.
  3. Transfer Ownership of Assets: Once the trust agreement is in place, the next step is to transfer ownership of your assets into the trust. For real estate, you'll need to draft and record a new deed transferring the property to the trust. For financial accounts, you'll need to contact your bank or brokerage to change the ownership to the trust. Personal property without titles can be transferred with an assignment of ownership that lists the items being transferred.
  4. Fund the Trust: After transferring the assets, you need to fund the trust with some amount of money. This can usually be a nominal amount, such as $10.
  5. Keep Records: Keep detailed records of all asset transfers into the trust. This can be crucial for settling disputes and for your own personal reference.
  6. Update Over Time: As you acquire new assets, remember to add them to the trust. Regularly review your trust and keep it updated to reflect your current financial situation and wishes.

Adding Assets to a Trust in Oregon: What You Need to Know

Funding a trust involves transferring ownership of your assets to the trust. In Oregon, the process varies depending on the type of asset. Here's what you need to know:

Real Estate

In Oregon, real estate assets such as homes, land, or other properties can be transferred into a trust by creating a new deed in the name of the trust. The most common type of deed used for this purpose is the warranty deed, which guarantees that the property title is free of any liens or ownership disputes. To execute the transfer, the deed must be signed in the presence of a notary and then recorded in the county recorder's office in the county where the property is located.

Financial Accounts

Transferring financial accounts such as bank accounts, investment accounts, and certificates of deposit into a trust involves contacting your financial institution and completing the necessary forms to change the ownership or beneficiary to the trust. Typically, you'll need to provide a copy of your trust agreement or a certification of trust.

Another option that Oregon residents have is the use of Transfer-on-Death (TOD) or Payable-on-Death (POD) designations. These allow the assets in the accounts to pass directly to a named beneficiary upon your death, bypassing probate. While TOD is typically used for brokerage and investment accounts, POD designations are usually for bank accounts.

It's important to note that TOD and POD designations differ from a trust in that they only address what happens to the asset upon your death, and provide no control or protection during your lifetime. Also, they offer no direction on the distribution of assets if the named beneficiary predeceases you.

When it comes to retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs, these generally aren't transferred into a trust due to potential tax implications. Instead, you could consider naming the trust as a beneficiary. However, this option should be carefully considered with the help of a financial advisor or tax professional to understand the potential tax consequences and distribution rules.

Remember, coordinating your financial accounts with your overall estate plan is crucial, and the right choice can vary based on your individual circumstances and goals.

Personal Property

Transferring personal property such as furniture, jewelry, artwork, and other belongings into a trust can be accomplished using an assignment of ownership or bill of sale. These documents should clearly list the items being transferred. For valuable items, it's often advisable to specifically list them in the trust document to avoid any potential disputes. Note that for items of minimal value, a general assignment might be sufficient.


To transfer a car, boat, or other vehicles into a trust in Oregon, you'll need to change the title to the name of the trust. This involves filling out a title application with the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. It's important to note that transferring vehicles into a trust can have insurance and liability implications, so it's recommended to seek professional advice before doing so.

Business Interests

If you own interest in a business, this can also be transferred into your trust. For LLCs and partnerships, this involves assigning your interest to the trust. For corporations, you'll typically need to reissue stock in the name of the trust. However, transferring business interests can have tax implications and might violate buy-sell agreements or other business contracts. Therefore, it's advised to consult with a business attorney before making any transfers.

Life Insurance and Other Policies

There are two main ways to incorporate life insurance into your trust. One option is to name the trust as the beneficiary of the policy. The other option is to transfer ownership of the policy to the trust. Both options have different implications for control over the policy and for estate taxes, so it's important to consult with an estate planning professional to determine the best strategy for your circumstances.

In conclusion, funding your trust is a crucial process that requires careful planning and execution. Always remember to keep detailed records of all asset transfers and to consult with an estate planning professional to ensure you're correctly funding your trust and maximizing its benefits.

Tax Implications in Oregon

When funding a trust in Oregon, it's important to be aware of the potential tax implications. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Income Tax: In Oregon, revocable living trusts are considered "grantor" trusts. This means that for income tax purposes, the trust is not a separate entity, and all income, deductions, and credits are reported on your personal tax return. However, if you have an irrevocable trust, the trust becomes a separate taxable entity and must file its own tax return.
  2. Estate Tax: Oregon has a state estate tax, which applies if the total value of your estate exceeds the Oregon estate tax exemption amount. Assets in a revocable trust are included in your estate for estate tax purposes, while assets in an irrevocable trust are not.
  3. Inheritance Tax: Oregon does not have an inheritance tax. Therefore, your beneficiaries will not owe state inheritance tax on assets they inherit through the trust.
  4. Gift Tax: When you transfer assets to an irrevocable trust, it's considered a gift. If the value of the gift exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion amount, you may have to file a gift tax return. However, you generally won't owe gift tax unless the total amount of your gifts throughout your lifetime exceeds the lifetime gift tax exemption.
  5. Property Tax: In Oregon, transferring property to a trust should not trigger a reassessment of property taxes, as long as the trust beneficiaries are the same as the original owners.

Homestead and Asset Protection

When setting up and funding a trust, it's important to consider how it will impact your homestead exemption and asset protection strategies. Here are some key points to consider in Oregon:

  1. Homestead Exemption: Oregon law provides a homestead exemption that protects a certain amount of the equity in your home from creditors. However, transferring your home into a trust may impact this exemption. It's recommended to consult with a legal professional to understand the potential implications.
  2. Asset Protection: Transferring assets into a revocable living trust does not protect them from your personal creditors. This is because you retain control of the assets and can revoke the trust at any time. However, assets in an irrevocable trust are generally protected from your creditors, because you have effectively given up control of these assets.
  3. Asset Protection Trust: Oregon does not currently allow self-settled asset protection trusts. This means you cannot establish a trust for your own benefit that shields assets from your creditors.

It's important to note that these protections are not absolute and can be subject to certain exceptions. Hence, when setting up a trust, it’s essential to work with an experienced estate planning professional to best structure your assets for protection while staying within the boundaries of the law.

Maintaining a Trust

Once you've set up your trust and transferred your assets into it, the work isn't over. Maintaining your trust over time is critical to ensure it continues to serve your needs and objectives. Here are some key points to consider when maintaining a trust in Oregon:

  1. Regular Reviews: Review your trust document regularly, at least once a year or whenever there is a significant life event like a birth, death, marriage, or divorce. This allows you to ensure that the trust still aligns with your current wishes and circumstances.
  2. Adding New Assets: As you acquire new assets, don't forget to add them to your trust. Any significant assets not in the trust at the time of your death would have to go through probate, defeating one of the main purposes of having a trust.
  3. Record Keeping: Keep accurate and up-to-date records of the trust's assets. This can be instrumental in resolving any potential disputes and provides a clear picture of the trust's holdings.
  4. Tax Filings: If your trust is irrevocable, it becomes a separate taxable entity and you'll need to file an annual tax return for it. Ensure these filings are done on time and accurately.
  5. Changes in Law: Laws related to estate planning and trusts can change. Stay informed about any changes in Oregon's trust laws or federal laws that might impact your trust.
  6. Professional Guidance: Consider regular check-ins with your estate planning attorney or advisor. They can provide valuable guidance on managing and maintaining your trust, ensuring it continues to serve your estate planning objectives effectively.

Remember, a trust is a living document that can and should be adjusted as your life, assets, and laws change over time. Proper maintenance will ensure your trust provides the benefits you intended.