It’s a pretty common mistake for litigators in Georgia unfamiliar with fiduciary litigation – naming a trust as a party to a lawsuit.  Apparently, as we recently saw in Ford v. Reddick, it’s a mistake made in real estate transactions, too.

It’s hard to blame them because, on the surface, the Georgia Code’s many references to trusts may unwittingly suggest to some that a trust is itself a legal entity.  But, under Georgia law, it’s not.

So what tripped up the real estate transaction in Ford?

It’s a straightforward set of facts.  Kaiser Ford, as attorney-in-fact for Ruby Lee Gloster, executed two warranty deeds conveying Gloster’s real property to “Morison Outreach, a Trust.”  Gloster sued to set aside those deeds.  Gloster contended that the deeds were invalid as they conveyed property to a trust instead of a trustee.  The trial court and Georgia Court of Appeals agreed.

It’s well-settled law that a deed that does not properly designate a grantee does not convey title.  Under Georgia’s Trust Code, in order for a deed to convey property to a trust, the trustee must be designated as the grantee of legal title.  In other words, when it comes to property transactions in Georgia, a trust can only convey or receive property through its trustee.