A Certification of Trust is a document you should receive as part of your estate plan. This document basically provides "proof" of your living trust. Some banks, financial institutions, and insurance companies want to see a copy of it before putting your asset in the name of your trust. Some places call it an "Abstract of Trust" or "Certificate of Trust." Basically, this document provides a "summary" of your living trust because the trust itself is supposed to be a private document.
What does it say?
It provides the names of the Settlors (the persons who created the trust - usually that's you!). Other common terms for "Settlor" are "Grantor" or "Trustor". Settlor is the more common and modern term although many banks and other financial institutions still use the older terms. If you are a married couple, make sure the Certification of Trust makes it clear whether one signature is necessary or two in order to manage the asset. For example, do you really want to require both husband and wife's signatures every time you make a deposit or withdrawal?
The certification usually also lists who the successor trustees are. These are the folks you select to take over in the event you are unable to serve as the Trustee of your own trust (due to death, incapacity, or resignation).
Then the certificate usually provides the official name of the trust. For example, "The Smith Family Trust" or "The Smith Family Revocable Trust" etc. I usually like to keep it short for practical purposes.
Finally, the certificate usually provides a summary of the powers given to the trustees so the financial institution provides the trustees with the latitude necessary to manage the asset. Sometimes, the financial institutions will have its own certificate and they won't need the one you have.
Either way, just make sure you do what is necessary to put your accounts in the name of your trust. Remember, not ALL assets go into your trust. Your attorney should give you guidance as to which assets go into your trust and which ones do not.
If you don't have an estate plan and want to learn more, feel free to contact our office to see if we can assist you. Thank you very much, and we encourage you to explore our website for further educational information.