It’s common nowadays, though not necessary, to use living trusts to hold real property. It’s also a common misconception that the trust owns the property. Trusts are complex, and contrary to what one may think, don’t actually get any simpler when there’s only one trustee. A trust is always an agreement between a trustor and a trustee. This doesn’t change even if they’re the same person, which is definitely possible, but you still need to know the difference.
The trustor is the person who creates and funds a trust, and sets the terms, beneficiaries, and trustees. The trustor is usually only one person, but could be a married couple. The trustor could also be a trustee, and often is when the trust is created, but may not be. Trustees, on the other hand, manage the trust and perform day-to-day tasks in accordance with the directions given in the trust. There could be any number of trustees. These are the actual owners of real property, not the trust itself. If at any point all trustees are deceased or unwilling to act, the trustor can appoint a new trustee, or the court can do so if the trustor is not able to or not allowed to by the trust’s provisions.
Trustees are also responsible for signing the certificate of trust that would be provided to the title insurance company. This document must have the date of the trust’s creation, identity of all trustors and trustees and whoever can revoke the trust, powers of the trustees, manner in which trust assets are taken, legal description of the property or whatever part is held by the trust, signatures of trustees, and a statement that the trust certification is still valid and correct. Normally, all trustees must sign, but there could be provisions in a trust that allow for less than all of them to sign. Trustees may give someone power of attorney only if the trust specifically allows for it.