Making a Certification or Abstract of Trust

When you go to transfer property in or out your living trust, a bank or other institution may ask to see the trust document. The institution wants to know that the trust exists and that you really have the authority you say you do.

Use a Certification in Lieu of Your Trust Document

If you don't want to show your trust document, in most cases you can use a shorter version of it, called a certification, certificate, abstract or memorandum of trust (different states use different names). This document gives institutions the information they need but lets you keep some key provisions private. Notably, you don't have to disclose the names of the beneficiaries to whom you're leaving trust property. A certification is almost universally accepted in place of an entire trust document.

Many states have laws stating that if a certification of trust includes certain information, institutions must accept it in lieu of the entire trust document. California law, for example, states that someone who refuses to accept a valid certification and demands to see the whole trust document may be liable for any monetary loss suffered by the trust grantor.

Nolo’s Trust Certification

Nolo's certification gives you a certification that meets the requirements of many states (for example, California). Even if it doesn't contain everything your state's form does, it will still be acceptable in a great many cases. However, an institution may insist that you use the form that has been approved by your state legislature. The states that have their own requirements are listed below. You can look up your state's law if you need to; see If You Need More Help for tips. In addition, institutions such as banks and title companies may have their own forms, which they would prefer you to use.

Notarizing Your Trust Certification

You should sign the certification in front of a notary public. If you and your spouse or partner made the trust together, you both need to sign the certification. If one has died, the survivor can make a certification.

State-Specific Rules

Most states have enacted statutes setting out the contents for a certification of trust. If your certification meets the state requirements, institutions must accept it or be liable to you for your losses.

State

Statute Sections on Certification of Trust

Alabama

Ala. Code §§ 19-38-1013

Arizona

Ariz. Rev Stat. s § 14-11013

Arkansas

Ark. Rev. Stat. § 28-73-1013

California

Cal. Prob. Code § 18100.5

Delaware

12 Del. Code Ann. § 3591

District of Columbia

D.C. Code Ann. § 19-1310.13

Florida

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 736.1017

Idaho

Idaho Code § 68-115

Iowa

Iowa Code § 633A.4604

Indiana

Ind. Code § 30-4-4-5

Kansas

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 58a-1013

Maine

Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 18-B, § 1013

Michigan

Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 565.432

Minnesota

Minn. Stat. § 501B.56

Mississippi

Miss. Code Ann. § 91-9-7

Missouri

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 456.10-1013

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-38,102 and following

Nevada

Nev. Rev. Stat. § 164.410

New Hampshire

N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 564-B:10-1013

New Mexico

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 46A-10-1013

North Carolina

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 36C-10-1013

North Dakota

N.D. Cent. Code § 59-18-13

Ohio

Ohio Rev. Code § 5810.13

Oregon

Or. Rev. Stat. § 130.860

Pennsylvania

20 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 7790.3

Rhode Island

R.I. Gen. Laws § 34-4-27

South Carolina

S.C. Code Ann. § 62-7-1013

South Dakota

S.D. Cod. Laws Ann. § 55-4-42

Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. § 35-15-1013

Texas

Tex. Prop. Code § 114-086

Utah

Utah Code Ann. § 75-7-1013

Virginia

Va. Code § 55-550.13

West Virginia

W.Va. Code § 36-1-4a

Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. § 4-10-1014


Sample Certification

Here is an example of what a certification of trust can look like.

Certification of Trust

The trustees of the Sheila Jenkins Revocable Living Trust declares as follows:

Part 1. Existence and Name of Trust/Grantor

Sheila Jenkins, called the grantor, created a revocable living trust, known as the Sheila Jenkins Revocable Living Trust, by Declaration of Trust dated August 15, 20xx. This trust has not been revoked, modified or amended in such a way that would contradict what is stated in this Certification of Trust and remains in full force and effect.

Grantor's address is:

900 Lincoln Street

Tucson, Arizona 85745

Part 2. Amendment and Revocation

The grantor may amend or revoke the Sheila Jenkins Revocable Living Trust at any time, without notifying any beneficiary. The power to revoke or amend the trust is personal to the grantor. A conservator, guardian or other person shall not exercise it on behalf of the grantor, unless the grantor specifically grants a power to revoke or amend the trust in a Durable Power of Attorney.

Part 3. Trustee

Sheila Jenkins is the currently acting trustee of the trust.

The trustee in office shall serve as trustee of all trusts created under this Declaration of Trust, including children's subtrusts.

Part 4. Title to Trust Assets

Title to trust assets should be taken in the name of Sheila Jenkins, trustee of the Sheila Jenkins Revocable Living Trust, dated August 15, 20XX.

Part 5. Trustee's Management Powers and Duties

Powers Under State Law

The trustee shall have all authority and powers allowed or conferred on a trustee under Arizona law, subject to the trustee's fiduciary duty to the grantor and the beneficiaries.

Specified Powers

The trustee's powers include but are not limited to:

  1. The power to sell trust property, and to borrow money and to encumber trust property, including trust real estate, by mortgage, deed of trust or other method.
  2. The power to manage trust real estate as if the trustee were the absolute owner of it, including the power to sell, lease (even if the lease term may extend beyond the period of any trust) or grant options to lease the property, to make repairs or alterations and to insure against loss.
  3. The power to sell or grant options for the sale or exchange of any trust property, including stocks, bonds, debentures and any other form of security or security account, at public or private sale for cash or on credit.
  4. The power to invest trust property in every kind of property and every kind of investment, including but not limited to bonds, debentures, notes, mortgages, stock options, futures and stocks, and including buying on margin.
  5. The power to receive additional property from any source and add to any trust created by this Declaration of Trust.
  6. The power to employ and pay reasonable fees to accountants, lawyers, investment experts or other professionals for information or advice relating to the trust.
  7. The power to deposit and hold trust funds in both interest-bearing and non-interest-bearing accounts.
  8. The power to deposit funds in bank or other accounts uninsured by FDIC coverage.
  9. The power to enter into electronic fund transfer or safe deposit arrangements with financial institutions.
  10. The power to continue any business of the grantor.
  11. The power to institute or defend legal actions concerning this trust or the grantor's affairs.
  12. The power to execute any documents necessary to administer any trust created by this Declaration of Trust.
  13. The power to diversify investments, including authority to decide that some or all of the trust property need not produce income.

This Certification of Trust is being signed by all currently acting trustee.

_____________________________________ Dated: ______________

Sheila Jenkins, Grantor and Trustee

[Attach: Notary’s Certificate of Acknowledgement]