Is a Living Trust a Public Record?

May 5, 2017
Living Trusts

This seems to be a very common question.  Many clients assume that they, are and ask how they are supposed to go about recording them.  The answer in fact is the opposite.  Living Trusts are not required to be recorded, are not designed to be recorded and in nearly all circumstances should not be recorded.

One of the benefits of having a living trust is to ensure privacy by avoiding the public scrutiny of Probate. There is however an aspect of having a living trust that usually is part of the public record and that has to do with real property you own.    

When a living trust is created, it needs to be funded in order to be effective.  That mean title to your various assets needs to be changed, or retitled to the name of your trust.  That includes real estate that you own.   Since title to real estate is a matter of public record, on file at the county recorder’s office, your deed will reflect that your property is titled in the name of your trust, along with the name of the trustee of your trust.  That’s it though.  There is no public record concerning the terms of your trust or who any of your heirs are.  That information remains private.

There is one circumstance generally where a Trust can be a matter of public record.  That is when you, or your attorney chooses to create what is known as a Testamentary Trust, which is different from a Living Trust.  A testamentary trust is a trust that is drafted inside of a last will and testament.  This trust does not exist during your lifetime (unlike a living trust) and only becomes effective after your estate goes through probate.