Many privacy enthusiasts have considered putting some of their possessions into a Trust to keep their name off of registrations, titles, etc., but may feel uncomfortable tackling the subject.
Legal paperwork can seem daunting, (an idea cultivated by lawyers), but this particular process is quite simple and does not require a lawyer.
I will lay out the steps here below to create a “Revocable Living Trust” completely legally. Afterwards, I would appreciate your comments on use case possibilities.
(I use a trust for nothing more than to keep my name off of my car title and registration, so your comments on expanded uses are appreciated)
[Note: I am not a lawyer. That is why I am not making this seem like a baffling legalese struggle to conquer an impenetrable government bureaucracy. If you do research on this process you will almost certainly find comments from lawyers on various sites claiming “These free forms aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on,” or some such nonsense. Go ahead and do your research, but don’t believe the hype. The free forms are the same ones they use–theirs just have a fancier letterhead.]
Decide in which state you wish to create your trust. (I will give specifics for only Texas, Florida, and South Dakota since those are the only states I have researched thoroughly. Quickly scanning requirements in a few other states leads me to believe that most states are almost identical.)
There are several kinds of trusts. You want to create a “Revocable Living Trust”.
Decide on a generic sounding name for your trust that does not include any of your Personally Identifiable Information. If your name is Robert Jones and you title your car in the name of “The R. Jones Living Trust” then what’s the point? (Something like “The ABC Living Trust”, or “The Future Ventures Living Trust”, you get the idea.) Don’t worry about possibly having the same name as another existing trust, since trusts are identified by a combination of name and the date they were created.
[Just at random, I checked the Massachusetts government website and they provide free forms for this process as well and they are only cosmetically different than TX, FL and SD, so I assume that most states provide these forms free of charge, you just need to know where to look and not allow yourself to get spooked by lawyers.]
Make yourself both the Grantor and Trustee. That way you retain full control of all assets in the trust and you may do anything you wish with them (sell them, give them away, light them on fire, etc.) for the rest of your life. You may change any terms in the trust at any time (hence “Revocable”). The trust becomes “Irrevocable” upon your death, and all items in the trust are immediately transferred to your designated beneficiaries without having to go through probate. (Just another icing on the cake besides the privacy benefits.)
Do not sign the Declaration of Trust until you are in front of a notary.
Once you sign and it is notarized, congratulations! Your Revocable Living Trust is now fully legal and in effect. (I checked a list of Notary Fees nationwide and did not find any state that charges more than $25 to do this. Most charge $10.)
I hope this is useful information for everyone. I will be including additional details below in the coming days, starting with a Certification of Trust form. It is a one page document that you can carry around when titling or registering your car or other assets in the name of the Trust, rather than carting around a 10 page document everywhere.
No. It is considered a legal document once signed and notarized.
No. The registered agent, state filing, and maintenance fees are all requirements of LLC’s, not Trusts. (here’s a quote from a legal site: After a Living Trust has been completed, signed, and notarized an original copy should be kept by all parties involved in the document. Unlike a Will, this form does not need to be registered or signed with any government office and is to be solely held by the Grantor(s), Trustee(s), and Beneficiary(ies).)
A trust is legal infrastructure for estate planning that incidentally has some privacy benefits.
An LLC is legal infrastructure for business formation that also has (probably more) privacy benefits. LLC’s have more requirements, higher costs, and maintenance fees, but this will be a separate topic in the future. LLC’s also have different tax implications. It’s more complicated, but still fairly simple.
It’s hard to believe, but the total cost of formation is simply the notary fee. There is no maintenance fee, but you do need to get any changes notarized each time. So if you’re constantly making changes to what is in the trust you’ll be paying a $10 to $25 fee each time.
You can transfer vehicles (Title and registration) to a trust. I have read that it is not recommended to put real estate in a trust, but this is not a use case I needed so I don’t have all the details on that front.
I believe another member of our friendly forum community may be chiming in here in the next week or so to discuss more of the use case scenarios for a trust.
And I’ll get the “Certification of Trust” form and the form to make changes to your trust up in this thread soon.
Jewelry, stocks, etc. can all go into the trust. Trusts do not require special tax filings. If you have followed the instructions to make yourself the Grantor and Trustee on the declaration of trust, you simply report anything in the trust on your normal tax returns.
My use case was to combine this with Nomad Status in South Dakota. Part of a bigger plan to get off the grid. ( You can check it out in this link below)
I didn’t really consider this from a point of view of staying put in the same residence so I’m not really sure how to answer this question. I can say, however, that South Dakota, Texas and Florida all make this process a lot simpler. If you don’t have your residence set up in one of those places then maybe it’s better for you to just look for the forms in your home state. Hard to tell without knowing what you’re trying to accomplish.
There doesn’t really seem to be any difference between SD, TX, and FL for practicality sake, but the service that helps you do the Nomad Status that I used (America’s Mailbox) is in SD so that’s what I went with.
Another service that will help you do it in TX and FL is here:
So if you go through them, it may make sense to match your nomad status state, with your Revocable Trust State.
Here’s the next thing you need. (also REALLY simple)–a ‘Certificate of Trust’.
What is a Certificate of Trust?
A Certification of Trust is a legal document that can be used to certify both the existence of a Trust, as well as to prove a Trustee’s legal authority to act. It’s shorter than the actual Trust document, and it can offer pertinent information without making every aspect of the Trust public.
A Trust Certification gives a Trustee the ability to provide anyone who needs it (think: financial institutions or other third parties) important information about the Trust - like the date it was formed, the legal/formal name of the Trust, who the Trustee is (or Trustees are) and other information institutions may require before allowing a Trustee to act.
If you’d like more detailed, state specific, information here is a link that lays it out simply.
Here’s the form:
(note: “settlor” and “grantor” are synonymous, however it may be best to pick one of the terms and use it consistently on any documentation)
This certificate needs to be notarized as well. This will now be the only document you need to carry with you when you are titling property in the name of the trust.
(again, there are many different flavors of this same form which can be downloaded for free. A lawyer will happily take your money to download it for you and stick their letterhead at the top. Your choice.)
I’ll post the “Trust Amendment” form in the next week or so for when you need to make changes to the terms of the trust.
I just noticed that CapitalOne bank has a page on their site for you to transfer your bank account into the name of your trust. Easy.
(So I assume you can open a new account in the name of a trust, and this must apply to other banks as well)
Interesting point on this, you can subsequently get checks sent to you in the name of the trust with no PII on them.
This is true.
They will have the name of the trustee.
The workaround is that since it is a revocable trust you can change it at any time. So you open the account when the Trustee is Bob Jones then ammend the trust to change the Trustee to your name again. (you just need to trust your buddy Bobby Jones in the short time he is in charge)
We are working on a solution that help maintain anonymity and privacy of goods that are passed via wills and trusts. The tool itself is more generalized but we are working with some lawyers who work in blockchain to formulate this into a product soon. Our project is called Sarcophagus and you can find more info here at our site: https:// sarcophagus. io
A easy to digest way of looking at our protocol is that it allows any user to upload and store digital data that can be wills/trusts, photos, documents, any file type and have it encryptically sealed away on the Ethereum blockchain. It is only made visible when a user fails to attest and reset the dead man’s switch that reveals the contents to the recipient. It’s our key encrypted to the recipient so only they will have access to digital data passed. A lot of the technical aspects we’re working to abstract away, but it can be used in the wills and trust use case pretty easily and could be used to supplement an actual wills and trust that is legal and executable with the data stored in the “sarcophagus”. If you’re interested in learning more let me know and we could setup some way to chat further!
I’ve been scratching my head for five minutes trying to figure out what types of “foods” I would be interested in inheriting or passing on to someone after my death.
Then I realized it was just a typo. Goods.
On vacation the last few days and late to this privacy party. Talking to @Cdf about some use cases of trust.
Here is a scenario. Doing some research on a topic, found some interesting information shared by a user of a website. The user had a question but giving him an answer would require that I join this website. All users submit images with location data as a high priority. So this user submitted a picture with location information shared. The first and last name of this user was shared and it is unique. Lets say it was Kris Lostname.
Knowing the user general location and 250 pictures created a heat map of one county in one state in the US. I went to the county appraisal office website. Searched this unique name and sure enough he is a land owner. The address where he owns land is also the mailing address.
Cross referencing his home address and the pictures location he submitted confirmed this person was submitting pictures from home area.
Using white pages com did a quick search, found his family information and an email address. Asked a family member do you know this person? Can you look them up on Facebook? Sure enough there are some mutual friends.
If this person was not the land owner a last name and this much location data it would have taken just a little longer to find where this person lives.
A land trust is one way to get not just your name off the appraisal districts web site.
Here is just the first good result to define a land trust.
My main phone number came from a an ex, it has never been under a contract under my name. Kinda funny, kinda sad, it is under contract of a different ex. I pay the bill so we are cool.
Anyway I got a text message that was intended to go to the first ex, from 13 years ago. When we lived at an address I still own today.
The message was
"FIRST NAME, this is a “Voter Engagement” opposite parties policies make us unsafe (FUD), they need to be voted out but records say you’r nit registered to vote at “registered address from 13 yrs ago”
Can we send a reg form? Reply YES etc…"
So voter registration and maybe some phone records were thrown together.
Doing a reverse number look up leads to nothing? Searching who they claim to be lands me at a federal elections commission .gov site showing some spending history finally finding they made a purchase to https://thedatatrust.com/ who claim “Data Trust’s exclusive data inventory consists of a deep collection of data on over 300 million individuals, with up to 2,500 data points on each, including hundreds that are unique to Data Trust.”
A deeper dive in to this and they attacker could look up who owns the land, see the last name from the records is the same and then check public records for a divorce which is public information. Then look for a marriage after this date find the person the are looking for remarried and assume there could have been a name change. Doing another search found new voter registration data with the first name and new married name…
Ask a genealogist how far they can search back a persons history based off census, birth, death, marriages, divorces, and military service.
You can not hide your PII when registering to vote in the US. My intentions is to use Escapees for my legal address where my state issued ID and voter registration will be.
Using a land trust to remove my legal name off of the current deed records and appraisal districts websites.