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Who is Entitled to a Copy of Your Trust?

One of the advantages of having a revocable living trust is that it is private and not a public record. No one has the right to see the provisions of your trust unless you want them to.

When you transfer your bank accounts into the name of your trust, you frequently will take your trust into the financial institution and show them that you have a trust. This is often done by showing the bank officer the first page and last page of your trust. You can also show or give them a copy of your Certification of Trust which is a document that shows then name of your trust, possibly the trust powers, and the current trustees. The document is notarized and can be used to show the existence of the trust. You do not have to provide any financial institution with a copy of your trust.

Upon your death or the death of your spouse, your trust becomes available to the beneficiaries of the trust or your heirs. California Probate Code Section 16061.5(a) provides:

“When a revocable trust or any portion of a revocable trust becomes irrevocable because of the death of one or more of the settlors of the trust, or because, by the express terms of the trust, the trust becomes irrevocable within one year of the death of a Settlors because of a contingency related to the death of one or more of the settlors of the trust, the trustee shall provide a true and correct copy of the terms of the irrevocable trust, to any beneficiary of the trust who requests it and to any heir of a deceased Settlors who requests it.”

Aside from the persons mentioned in the Probate Code, no one else has the right to a copy of your trust upon your death. The contents of your trust will remain private unless your heirs or beneficiaries or other interested persons seek court intervention to interpret the trust or address issues of distribution or trust administration.

As a practical matter, you may decide you want to give a copy of your trust to your successor trustee but you are under no obligation to do so. Some people choose to give copies to their children who are the successor trustees and the only beneficiaries. Other people keep their trust private. Contact us if you have any questions about your revocable living trust or any other estate planning issues.

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