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Creating a trust protects your assets, your family, and your legacy because of the special procedures associated with their creation and maintenance. One such procedure is creating a certification of trust.

If you have been thinking about the future and are ready to plan your estate, it’s best to contact an experienced estate planning attorney to learn about the best options for your circumstances. Until you have the chance to meet with a lawyer, the following broad overview about certifications of trust includes how they work, who needs one, and how a lawyer can help you create one.

What Is a Certification of Trust?

A certification of trust is a legal document that summarizes the most important details of a trust. It serves as proof that a trust exists and governs the property and assets it holds. You can provide the certification of trust to third parties, often financial institutions. They receive the information they need, but you can keep the details of your trust, such as the names of your beneficiaries, private.

Occasionally, especially for trusts created in other states, a certification of trust might be called something else. Other names include:

  • Trust certification
  • Memorandum of trust
  • Abstract of trust
  • Certificate of trust

Texas probate and estate laws refer to these legal documents as certifications of trust. They include the following elements:

How Does a Certification of Trust Work?

The person who creates a trust is known as the grantor. This might be you or a family member. A grantor appoints one or more trustees to manage the trust. If you fail to appoint a trustee or the trustee does not comply with the requirements of the trust, a Texas court can appoint another trustee. The trustee or multiple trustees serve as the legal owner(s) of the title to any property and assets held by the trust and must comply with their fiduciary responsibilities to the beneficiaries of the trust.

In most situations, the trustee(s) benefit from having a certification of trust. It allows a trustee to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries without disclosing too many details. Typically, only the trustee(s) may legally sign a certification of trust.

If a trustee dies, resigns or circumstances have otherwise changed, you might need to update your certification of trust. The same is true if the trust buys or sells any real estate or other specifically named assets.

Who Needs a Certification of Trust?

A trust gives the trustee(s) general and specific powers related to the assets and property it holds. In Texas, trustee powers include:

  • Add to the assets of a trust
  • Acquire undivided interests
  • Manage and invest trust property
  • Engage in business activities and make investments on behalf of the trust
  • Manage real estate held by the trust
  • Sell assets and property
  • Lease property and mineral rights
  • Purchase insurance for property in the trust
  • Pay taxes
  • Borrow money against assets in the trust

Many of the above activities require dealing with a third party, often a financial institution. Trustees who want to limit the sensitive details exposed to third parties during transitions related to the trust need a certification of trust instead of providing the entire trust document to their third party. For example, you might not want third parties to know how much money your beneficiaries receive or the circumstances under which they would receive the money.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Certification of Trust?

You can technically create your own certification of trust and have it notarized. However, you will want to make sure that you comply with Texas law concerning trusts and certifications of trust. Any experienced estate planning attorney who helps you set up a trust will provide you with a certification of trust as part of the estate planning process. This ensures you have a sound and valid document, preventing any legal issues down the road. Estate planning lawyers understand the complex parts of the law and know how to apply it to a specific case to benefit their clients. You will rest easy knowing your assets are protected and that you can maintain your privacy with a certification of trust.

A Houston Certification of Trust Lawyer Here To Support You

Whenever you find yourself needing to reach out to our office, you can be sure you won’t need to wait for days in order to get a response. Here at Stafford Law Firm, we pride ourselves on being easily accessible and on responding to all client inquiries as soon as possible.

The fact of the matter is, one day your family will need to fall back on your estate plan. Whether it will simply be to pass on your family’s wealth after you pass, or something even more heartbreaking like needing a new guardian appointment for your children, having a thorough and customized plan in place will help make sure your family and your future are well taken care of. This plan may include a trust, and as such a certification of trust, and you can rest easy knowing that an experienced Houston Certification of Trust Lawyer has your best interests at heart.

Schedule your free consultation right away to discuss your estate planning needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

A certification of trust is a crucial aspect of having a trust. The certification of trust allows the trustee to provide important information about the trust to institutions that may need it without disclosing the trust’s entire contents.

Yes, a certification of trust does need to be signed by the trustees and it must be notarized.