Does a Living Trust Need to Be Notarized?

By Holly Cameron

If you create a living trust, you transfer some or all of your property into a trust fund. When you die, the trust passes on these assets to your chosen beneficiaries. One of the main benefits of forming a living trust, as opposed to simply writing a will, is that it avoids the costs and delays associated with the probate process. Laws relating to living trusts vary from state to state; not all states require notarization. There are, however, certain advantages to notarizing a living trust.

Legalities of a Living Trust

You need a formal document to create a living trust. As soon as you transfer your assets or property into the trust, you cease to become their legal owner. The trustees or administrators of the trust become the owners and they may carry out transactions in relation to the property or assets in accordance with the trust deed. If you create a revocable living trust, you can change or revoke it at any time during your life.

Creating a Living Trust

You can either hire a lawyer or use one of the formation services available to create a living trust. Banks or financial institutions sometimes offer a living trust service for their customers. Some states require you to sign the legal document in the presence of two independent witnesses over the age of 18. The witnesses should also sign the document. Although state laws do not generally require notarization, you may also wish to have a notary present during the signing process.

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Role of a Notary

A notary certifies that a document has been properly signed and witnessed. He checks that the signer is of sound mind, that he understands the nature of the document and that he is not being forced or coerced in any way. The notary requires the signer to be physically present before he will notarize the document and will usually check for proof of identity if he does not know the signer. The notary also verifies the identity and age of the witnesses.

Advantages of Notarizing

If you use the services of a notary when signing a living trust, this stands as a permanent record of the legitimacy of the document. Circumstances change over time and the living trust may be challenged in court, either before or after death. If a notary has attended the signing and has verified that the document has been properly signed and witnessed, this adds to the authenticity of the document.

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Standard Will Vs. Living Will


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Blind Trust Vs. Revocable Trust

A trust is a legal structure used to safeguard assets. Revocable trusts and blind trusts serve distinctly different functions. Trust law is very state-specific; those with questions about setting up a particular trust should enlist a local legal professional or an online drafting service.

Do Trusts Need to Be Notarized?

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.

How Much Money Do You Need to Start a Living Trust?

A living trust is used for estate planning and acts as a holding area for property. The person who creates the trust can retain control over his property in a revocable living trust. A trust can be created for many purposes, including caring for a child or elderly person or avoiding probate, which can be a lengthy process. The terms of the trust dictate when the trust beneficiaries receive the property in the trust. A living trust can be revocable, which means it can be amended or terminated by the person who created the trust, or irrevocable, which means it can be amended or terminated under limited circumstances, if at all. A grantor -- the person who creates a trust -- gives up all control over property in an irrevocable trust, whereas the grantor retains control over property in a revocable trust.

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