Understanding and Using a Certification of Trust


What is a Certification of Trust?

A Certification of Trust, also known as a Certificate of Trust, an Abstract of Trust, or a Trust Certificate, is a document that summarizes the key terms of a Trust. It is designed to provide essential information without disclosing the private details of the Trust. This document is particularly useful when you need to share some information about the Trust with others but prefer not to reveal the entire Trust document.

Elements of a Certification of Trust

  • Basic Details: It outlines the fundamental aspects of the Trust.
  • Trustees: Identifies the individuals who have authority to manage the Trust.
  • Trustee Powers: Summarizes the legal and financial powers granted to the Trustees.
  • Privacy: Does not disclose the Trust's assets, beneficiaries, or specific bequests.

How to Use a Certification of Trust

A Certification of Trust serves as a practical tool in various situations where Trust details need to be shared without providing the full Trust document. Common uses include:

  • Funding a Trust: To demonstrate the Trust's existence and the Trustee's authority.
  • Banking Transactions: When opening or managing bank accounts in the name of the Trust.
  • Real Property Transactions: If adding real estate to the Trust, a Certification of Trust can be recorded with the deed.
  • Insurance and Retirement Accounts: When naming the Trust as a beneficiary for life insurance policies or retirement accounts.

Updating a Certification of Trust

The Certification of Trust provides a snapshot of the key terms of the Trust. If any of those details change, you may need to prepare a new Certification of Trust to reflect the updates. For example:

  • Changes in the Trust: Any modification in the Trust’s terms, Trustees, or if the Trust becomes irrevocable (usually upon the death of the Settlors), necessitates a new Certification of Trust.
  • Banking and Financial Requirements: Some institutions may request a recently prepared Certification of Trust, often within the past year, to ensure the information is current.

Is a Certification of Trust required?

While not mandatory, a Certification of Trust offers a way to confirm the Trust's validity and the Trustees' authority without disclosing unnecessary details.

Benefits

  • Privacy: It limits the disclosure of sensitive information.
  • Convenience: Facilitates interactions with banks and other institutions that may require proof of the Trust's existence and terms.

Additional Considerations

  • State Laws: Most states allow you to use a Certification of Trust instead of providing a complete copy of your Trust, but regulations vary by state, so it's important to understand when a Certification of Trust can be used instead of the full Trust document.
  • Institutional Policies: Banks and financial institutions may have specific requirements, either requiring their form of Certification or the full Trust document.

How do I create a 'Certification of Trust' document?

When you purchase a Trust-based Estate Plan, we create a 'Certification of Trust' document from the information you provide to us in the questionnaire.

How to Access Your 'Certification of Trust' Document

You can view, download, or print your 'Certification of Trust' directly from the Estate Plan tab and scrolling down:

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How to Edit Your 'Certification of Trust' Document

While you cannot directly modify the final 'Certification of Trust' document that you see in the Estate Plan tab in your account, you can make changes to the specific sections that need to be updated via the Summary tab. These adjustments will then be reflected in your 'Certification of Trust'.

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