A trust needs its own checking account so the trustee can manage the trust's funds, bills and payments to beneficiaries. Because the money belongs to the trust and not the trustee, the trustee uses a separate checking account to keep trust money from mixing with his personal funds. A trust checking account also makes the trust's financial activities easier to follow and document. Only the trustee or trustees named in the trust agreement can open an account on behalf of the trust. If more than one trustee is named in the trust agreement, all trustees should go to the bank together to open the account. Each trustee has a legal obligation to ensure the other trustees act for the benefit of the trust -- and this duty includes the use of the money in a checking account. The bank needs the information for, and identification from, all trustees who will use the account.
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Read the trust agreement. Look for rules regarding creating trust checking accounts. Note the requirements, such as using a specific bank, if any. Follow the trust requirements if the agreement has rules for checking accounts.
Contact local banks. Ask if the bank provides trust checking accounts. Ask for a list of the documents required to open the account, the minimum opening deposit amount and a fee schedule. Compare fee schedules when selecting a bank.
Gather the required documents and the opening deposit amount. Documentation varies by bank, but you commonly need at least two valid forms of identification -- for example, state identification or a U.S. passport and a birth certificate -- and the original trust agreement. Locate any income tax papers you have regarding the trust, if any.
Visit the bank in person to open the account. Bring all required documents and the first deposit with you. Tell the clerk you want to open a trust checking account. Follow the bank's application procedures.
Make copies of the checking account papers the bank gives you. Put the papers with the original trust agreement. Add the account information, including bank name and account number, to the trust's property list.
- Original trust agreement
Tips & Warnings
If the trust has a tax account number, bring the tax account number documents to the bank and use the number to open the checking account.
Don't keep large amounts of trust money in a checking account that pays no or very little interest. As trustee, you have a duty to manage trust assets in a way that benefits the trust. Contact an attorney if you need help with assets that aren't producing any income.
References & Resources
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