Do Trusts Need to Be Notarized?

by Valerie Stevens
Many states require a notary to witness your signature on a trust document.

Many states require a notary to witness your signature on a trust document.

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Whether a trust document needs to be notarized depends on its purpose and state law, but notarization is a requirement in many states. A notary public is commissioned by state or local governments primarily to certify signatures on documents ranging from wills and trusts to contracts. Beyond simply witnessing as you sign a document, the notary is charged with verifying your identity and making sure you are signing willingly and not under pressure.

Signing Formalities

State laws vary regarding notarization of trusts. New York require that two witnesses -- or a notary -- sign a trust. In Florida, not every type of trust must be in writing, but a revocable trust that transfers property outside of your estate after your death must be signed with the same formalities as a will -- two witnesses and a notary. In other states, two witnesses must sign, but one can also act as the notary public. Regardless of state requirements, it's a good idea to have a notary witness your signature on trust documents because her seal speaks to the authenticity of your signature after your death.

Why Sign a Trust

People create trusts for a variety of reasons, but primarily because a trust can save your heirs the cost and time required to probate your will and may reduce taxes on your estate. A trust also allows you to control how your assets are distributed after your death and provides protection against creditors and lawsuits. Trusts fall into two broad categories: revocable and irrevocable. Generally, you can make changes to a revocable trust, but not an irrevocable trust.