What is a certification of trust?

A certification of trust is a document that provides a summary of essential trust information to external parties. 

A certificate of trust form, completed by a trustee, proves the existence and key provisions of the trust – without revealing specific details of its terms and assets.

On this page, we’ll explore a certification of trust document, together with its purpose and benefits as part of estate planning. 

What is a certification of trust, and why is it important? 

To explain what a certificate of trust is in more detail, we need to understand its context within estate planning.

Estate planning involves making arrangements to manage and distribute assets after an individual has died.

A trust is a common estate planning tool that allows people to transfer assets to a separate legal entity for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. 

A trust certification form is a document that serves as a concise summary of the trust’s key provisions, offering relevant information about the trust without disclosing confidential information. 

A certificate of trust example is a situation where a trustee needs to interact with financial institutions on behalf of the trust.

Say a trust owns assets such as bank accounts or real estate, the trustee may be required to provide proof of their authority to act on behalf of the trust. 

By presenting the certificate of trust, the trustee can provide the necessary information about the trust, such as its existence, trustee’s powers, and legal authority, without disclosing the full trust agreement.

What information should be included in a Certification of Trust form?

In most examples, a basic certification of trust includes:

  • The trust’s name 
  • The trust’s creator
  • The acting trustee of the trust
  • Trustee powers and responsibilities 
  • Indication of whether the trust is revocable or irrevocable
  • Successor or additional trustees’ information
  • The trust identification number (an IRS-issued number known as an Employer Identification Number, or the trustee’s social security number)
  • The legal description of any interest in real property held in the trust
  • Title to trust assets 

These details as a certificate of trust template allow for a concise and accurate representation of the trust’s key provisions while maintaining privacy and confidentiality.

Bear in mind, however, that each state has its own requirements for what to include in trust documents.

Examples of when a certification of trust is needed

Some situations that may call for a certificate of trust include:

1. Opening a bank account

The bank may require a certification of trust to verify both the trustee’s authority and the existence of the trust.

2. Real estate transactions

The buyer or seller may request a trust certification to confirm that the trustee is authorized to deal with the transaction.

3. Estate administration

A certification of trust may be needed to give evidence of the trust’s existence and the trustee’s powers to ensure proper distribution of assets according to the trust’s provisions.

4. Obtaining financing

Lenders may request a trust certification form to verify the trustee’s authority and verify the trust’s financial standing.

5. Investment management

To confirm a trustee’s authority to manage trust funds or assets and make investment decisions on behalf of the trust.

How to get a certificate of trust

There are different ways to get a trust certificate. 

First, you need to create a trust.

If this involves a complex estate, it’s wise to consult an estate planning attorney to navigate the process.

A simple estate can often be taken care of via a self-help trust solution.

Options to get a certificate of trust include:

  • Enlisting the help of an estate planning attorney
  • Using a self-help resource to create a certificate of trust
  • Requesting a form from your bank 
  • Asking a notary public for a copy of a state-specific certificate of trust form 

Executing a certification of trust forms part of the validity process. 

In most cases, this means a trustee needs to sign a trust certificate in the presence of two witnesses, who also sign. 

Based on the state a trustee lives in and the contents of the trust, the document may also need to be notarized or registered with a county or local court. 

Does a certificate of trust need to be updated?

A certificate of trust does not usually need updating — unless there are significant changes to the trust. 

The main reason for a certificate of trust is to give a quick summary of important trust details to external parties while keeping private information confidential. 

It’s a useful way to share relevant information about the trust while maintaining privacy — making trust-related transactions easier and more convenient.

Let document management software make handling your affairs easier

A certification of trust proves the existence and key provisions of the trust. 

If you need to create such a document, tools like PandaDoc help you produce and manage documents, including trust certificates, easily.

With PandaDoc, you can streamline your document creation process via intuitive templates, drag-and-drop functionality, and real-time collaboration features. 

Not only that, but PandaDoc’s eSignature feature gives you the ability to quickly and effortlessly secure legally binding signatures from all the parties involved.

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