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Virginia Trustee Deed

Transferring Real Property from a Living Trust Using a Virginia Trustee's Deed

A trustee's deed conveys interest in real property held in a living (inter vivos) trust. The deed is named for the granting party, the trustee, who holds legal title to property contributed to the trust by the trust's settlor. A settlor is any person who creates or contributes property to a trust by transferring it to another. Property held in trust is administered by the trustee for the benefit of a trust beneficiary. In most living trusts, the settlor designates himself as trustee and names a successor, who will take over fiduciary duties upon the settlor's death or incapacitation.

The trust is established by a written instrument executed by the settlor and governed by the Uniform Trust Code, codified in Virginia at Va. Code Ann. 64.2-7. The trust instrument contains the terms of the trust and sets forth the settlor's estate plan. The document names the trustees and enumerates the trustee's powers in acting on behalf of the trust, and designates the trust beneficiary or beneficiaries. Generally, the settlor designates himself as the living trust's beneficiary during his lifetime, and identifies another in the trust instrument who will receive the benefit of the trust's assets upon his death.

Trustees rely on the terms of the trust instrument and statutory trustee powers to convey property held in trust. A deed executed by trustee to convey real property from a trust typically carries a special warranty covenant of title. This means that the grantor promises to warrant and defend the property for the grantee "against the claims and demands of the grantor, and all persons claiming or to claim by, through, or under him" (Va. Code Ann. 55-69). Because the trustee is acting "in a fiduciary capacity," a narrower covenant than a general warranty is offered "to warrant title [only] during the time they had legal possession of it" [1].

A trustee's deed requires additional information because the grantor is acting in a fiduciary capacity. When real property is held in trust, the assets vest in the name of the trustee on behalf of the trust. Therefore, the trustee's deed names the acting trustee, the trust, and the date of the trust when reciting the grantor's information. The trustee's deed should comply with the statutory form for deeds and satisfy recording requirements for documents pertaining to interest in real property in Virginia ( 55-48, 17.1-223 et seq.). A trustee may provide a certification of trust under 64.2-804 to confirm the trust's existence and his authority to convey real property.

Before recording the deed in the independent city or county wherein the subject property is located, the deed must be signed by each acting trustee and acknowledged in the presence of a notary public.

Each situation is unique, so contact a lawyer with any questions about living trusts and for assistance in preparing a trustee's deed in Virginia.

[1] https://www.oldrepublictitle.com/vanational/agencyservices/seminars/2015FallSeminar/Virginia%20Deeds%20plus%20Appendix%20A-B.pdf

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Virginia Trustee Deed Form