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A written declaration of trust by the owner of real property, in which he names himself trustee, is sufficient to create a trust in that property, and that the law does not require a separate deed transferring the property to the trust.
The decedent executed a revocable living trust, naming himself as the trustee and his son as the successor trustee. All the property to be placed in the trust, including an interest in real property, was identified in a document titled "Schedule A," which was attached to the trust document. After the decedent's death, his son, as successor trustee, claimed that the trust language was sufficient to create a trust in the real property, and petitioned the probate court for instructions regarding the disposition of the decedent's interest in it. The interest in the real property had remained in the decedent's name, and there was no grant deed reconveying it to himself as trustee of the revocable living trust. The decedent's wife, who was entitled to a share of the decedent's estate, claimed that the real property was part of the estate. The probate court concluded that the trust document was sufficient to create a trust in the real property.
Was the written declaration of trust by the decedent sufficient to create a trust in the real property?
The appellate court affirmed, concluding that the written declaration of trust by the decedent was sufficient to create a trust and a separate deed transferring the property to the trust was not required. Also, the probate court had jurisdiction to decide if an enforceable declaration of trust had been made upon review of the petition for instruction.