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North Dakota Certificate of Trust

Codified at N. D. Cent. Code 59-18-13 as part of the North Dakota Uniform Trust Code, the certification of trust is a document containing essential information about a trust. A trustee can present a certificate when entering transactions on behalf of a trust. As the name suggests, the form certifies the trust's existence and the trustee's authority to conduct business in the trust's name, and its recipient may rely upon the facts contained within it without further inquiry ( 59-18-13(6)).

A trust is an arrangement whereby a settlor (or grantor) transfers property to another person (trustee) to be held for the benefit of third (beneficiary). The trust is governed by the terms expressed in the trust instrument, a (generally) unrecorded document that designates the trustee, contains the scope of the trust's assets, and identifies the trust's beneficiaries. Some types of trust take effect during the settlor's lifetime (inter vivos trust), and others take effect upon the death of the settlor (testator), as provided for by a will (testamentary trust).

In North Dakota, the certification states that the trust exists and provides the trust's name and effective date of the trust instrument. In addition, it identifies each person who has contributed property to the trust as a settlor and gives the name and address of the currently acting trustee. The trustee's powers relevant to the pending transaction are enumerated; reference may be made to the statutory trustee powers codified at chapters 59-09 through 59-19 of the North Dakota Uniform Trust Code. The recipient of a certification of trust can request copies of excerpts from the trust instrument designating the trustee and conferring the power to act in the business at hand ( 59-18-13(5)).

The certificate also defines the trust as either irrevocable or revocable, and names who, if any, holds a power to revoke the trust. If the trust has co-trustees, the certificate states whether or not all trustees are required in order to carry out trustee powers. It also specifies, by name, which trustees can authorize trust documents. Finally, the document contains a statement that the trust has not been revoked, modified, or amended in any way that would falsify the statements made within.

Generally, it is unnecessary to provide a certificate of trust alongside conveyances of property from trustees in North Dakota, as the "trustee of a trust that holds title to real property is presumed to have the power to sell, convey, and encumber the real property unless restrictions on that power appear in the records of the county recorder" ( 47-10-26).

However, some situations may warrant an accompanying certificate, such as when a trustee is incorrectly identified on the deed into trust, or the trustee named on the current deed has been replaced [1]. When property deeded into a trust is erroneously titled in the name of the trust rather than the trustee of the trust, the subsequent conveyance out of the trust may be validated if the trustee's identity "is reasonably ascertainable from the conveyance or from other information of public record," such as a certification of trust ( 47-19-42.1). When used in transactions involving real property, the certificate should provide a legal description of the subject property.

The certificate must be signed by a trustee in the presence of a notary public. If recording is applicable to the situation, the certificate may be recorded through the recorder's office. Consult a lawyer with any questions.

Deeds.com North Dakota Certificate of Trust Forms Have Been Updated as Recently as Tuesday June 30, 2020

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North Dakota Certificate of Trust Form