Do Trusts Have to Be Recorded?

by Charlie Gaston ; Updated July 27, 2017

Having a record of a legal instrument offers a safety net in case a dispute arises later. Public records are collected and recorded in two state offices. Once recorded, a member of the public can obtain a copy of the record without your consent.

Identification

A trust is a legal entity that can hold title on property. A settler must create a trust deed and hire a trustee to manage the trust after the settler’s death. A trust deed must be signed and dated by the parties involved in the trust and notarized by a notary public. Once a revocable trust is created, it can be revoked. An irrevocable trust, on the other hand, cannot. All trust funds are subject to probate upon the settler’s death.

State Offices

Trusts do not have to be recorded. States such as Pennsylvania require real estate transfers to be recorded in the county clerk's or recorder's office, however. The settler or trustee of the trust must visit the county clerk’s office in the county where the property is located and provide the county clerk with a certified copy of the trust deed. Sensitive personal and financial information may be removed to protect the trust grantor’s privacy. A full trust agreement may not be needed in all instances.

Benefits

Even though trust law does not require a settler or trustee of a trust to record a trust in the county clerk’s or recorder’s office in all states, it behooves a settler to record a trust deed to prove the powers granted to a trustee. Recording a trust agreement also proves its existence if an original trust deed is ever lost or destroyed.

Record-Keeping

A trustee must maintain permanent records of all trust documents. Amendments for minor changes and restatements for major changes must be attached to an original trust deed. Supplemental instructions for the administration of the trust must be kept in a trust portfolio. The trust portfolio should be locked in a fireproof safe. Trust documents are to be provided to beneficiaries of the settler upon the settler’s death.

About the Author

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.