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.

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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.