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My bank says that I need to register my living trust with the State of Calif. before I can open a trust account with them. How

Oakland, CA |
Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

Something is missing here.

Did they say this or did they say what is the tax id number?? Usually that is their mistake. A Trustor of a revocable living trust in which the Trustor is a beneficiary uses his/her SS number as the tax number. I think that is what they are asking for? Is a mistake 5% of time typically by credit unions.

Call the bank and ask this question again. There is no "registration w/ CA" ... No comment on our crazy state's rules that are "exciting" businesses into coming here (sarcasm intended about our state).. but in this case I would bet its the bank employee who messed up.

Ask them again .. please let us know what they say here / post - and what bank it is.


I'm not sure just what your bank expects for you to do. Living trusts are not registered with the State of California or any other state, because they are private agreements that you make with yourself or with you and your spouse.

What is required to open bank account is a Certification of Trust that summarizes certain information about your living trust such as:

1. The name
2. The date established
3. The name(s) of the Trustees of the trust and their addresses
4. Whether the trust is revocable or irrevocable,
5. The tax identification number of the living trust, and
6. (Sometimes) the specific powers that are held by the Trustees over the property in the trust.

The bank itself should have a Certification of Trust form that you can fill out as the Trustee of your living trust. This form is specifically authorized under California Probate Code Section 18100.5, and is all that a bank should need to open a trust account for your living trust with them.

If you had your living trust prepared by an attorney, there should be a document such as what I described. If you did it yourself, you probably do not have a Certification of Trust.

If there are more facts than what you have indicated, please provide them. If this is all the bank said and they refuse to work with you, then I suggest you consider using another bank to open your trust account. If the bank already has your accounts, then you should consider indicating to them that you will close your accounts and move them to another bank if they are unwilling to work with you.

You may wish to consult with an attorney to review the paperwork that you actually have to see why the bank might be refusing to work with you.

Please remember to mark what you believe to be the best answer to your question. This answer is provided by estate planning attorney Robert P. Bergman, with offices in San Jose, California. Mr. Bergman is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law (State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization), and has been practicing since 1980. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is only intended to provide general legal advice within the limits of the question asked. If you wish to create an attorney-client relationship for specific legal advice, it will be necessary to enter into an engagement for legal services. More general legal information about wills, living trusts, and estate planning can be found at Mr. Bergman's main website at, or his information website at Mr. Bergman also offers free living trust seminars and wealth preservation seminars at his offices in San Jose. For those unable to attend a live seminar, an online living trust seminar may be viewed or downloaded at


If your trust is a Revocable Living Trust, your bank is wrong. There is no registration process. One of the great advantages of a Living Trust is that, unlike a Will, it is a private document,and does not have to be registered with the state or county. Most likely, it was just the particular employee you spoke with at the bank who was confused.

Robert Bergman is correct that the bank is supposed to accept the Certificate of Trust and not even require a copy of the full trust. Banks may, and sometimes do, make reasonable requests for copies of certain specific provisions, and some banks (wrongly) insist on seeing the full trust, but no bank can require the trust to be registered with the state.

Your attorney should have furnished you with a Certificate of Trust prepared in accordance with California law, you should see a different attorney. If you do not have a Certificate because you did not have your trust prepared by an attorney, then this is one small illustration of one of many reasons why -- contrary to what you may hear on those misleading television and radio commercials -- estate planning should be done with a qualified attorney.

The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult an attorney.

Gad Zohar

Gad Zohar


I agree with Mr. Sydney. The one caveat I would add is that one can record a certificate of trust, like a deed, with the county recorder where the trust is located (generally, where you live). Maybe that is what the bank employee meant by "register" with the state. Nevertheless, my colleagues above correctly point out that the law under Prob. Code section 18100.5 requires the bank to accept a notarized certificate of trust, but there is no requirement that you record the certificate of trust with the county recorder.


The bank must accept a Certification of Trust by law.

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