Certificate Of Trust

Understand the essentials of a Certificate of Trust with our guidance.

When a loved one’s estate plan is set up to transfer their property through a revocable trust, the process of managing their final affairs is much easier than it would be if property passed through a will, which would require complying with multiple probate requirements. However, administering a trust still requires some effort, and the successor trustee will need to demonstrate the authority to take over management of trust assets.

Having a certificate of trust makes the tasks associated with trust administration much simpler and it keeps family matters private. Inhulsen Law can create a certificate of trust that will ease the administrative burdens of trust administration and safeguard your family’s privacy.

How a Certificate of Trust Operates in Michigan

A certificate of trust is a document that essentially serves as a form of identification for a trustee and an authenticator for the trust itself. It contains essential information that demonstrates the validity of the trust and the authority of the trustee without revealing details of trust operation. For instance, a certification of trust does not describe the property held in the trust or name the beneficiaries served by the trust.

Certificate of trust documents are typically fairly brief, compared to the full trust instrument which may be 20 or more pages in length. At one point, Michigan law recognized two different types of certificate of trust documents, one used for trust administration and the other used specifically in real estate sales. Lawmakers combined the two types and included specific requirements for their validity, so certificates prepared under the old statutory scheme may need to be re-issued to ensure that they are valid under the current rules.

Why You Should Have a Certificate of Trust

Real estate transactions involving the sale of property held by a trust require the production of a certificate of trust. But it is a good idea to have a certificate of trust regardless of whether the trust you are administering holds real estate.

Any time you work with a financial institution or other entity in conjunction with trust business, you will need to demonstrate the validity of the trust and your authority to act on behalf of that trust. A certificate of trust provides an easy way to accomplish that. If you don’t have a certificate of trust prepared, you can often submit a copy of the full trust instrument instead. However, if the trust instrument is 20 pages or more long, you will be dealing with a lot of paper. Moreover, it may take bank staff or others considerable time to wade through all the provisions to find the information they need. This can delay you in the process of administering the trust.

In addition, when you hand over copies of the full trust instrument and the organization keeps the copy for their records, you end up disclosing all the details of your trust to anyone who has access to the document.

Legal Requirements for a Certificate of Trust in Michigan

Section 700.7913 of the Michigan Compiled Laws explains the features that must be included in a certificate of trust. Some of the requirements are very straightforward. Others, however, require an understanding of legal precedent to interpret fully.

A certificate of trust must include:

  • The name of the trust, the date of the trust, and the date of each operative trust instrument.
  • The name and address of each current trustee.
  • The powers of the trustee relating to the purposes for which the certificate of trust is being offered.
  • The revocability or irrevocability of the trust and the identity of any person holding a power to revoke the trust.
  • The authority of co-trustees to sign on behalf of the trust or otherwise authenticate on behalf of the trust and whether all or less than all of the co-trustees are required to exercise powers of the trustee.
  • A statement specifying that trust has not been revoked, modified, or amended in any manner that would cause the representations included in the certificate of trust to be incorrect

The law also specifies that the certificate must be in the form of an affidavit and appropriately signed or authenticated.

When prepared properly, a certificate of trust can be furnished to anyone in lieu of the full trust instrument, with the exception of the beneficiaries, who are entitled to see the full instrument.

Simplify Your Duties with a Certificate of Trust

After the death of a loved one, you have an overwhelming number of tasks to handle at a time when you still need to process your grief and mourn your loss. Inhulsen Law can reduce some of the burden during this difficult time by preparing a certificate of trust you can use when dealing with banks and other entities to demonstrate your authority and prove the authenticity of the trust. To get started, fill out our online form or call us at (616) 747-0000.

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