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What is a Certificate of Trustee Authority?

Posted: February 27, 2019

Banks and other financial institutions often request a copy of the Trust Agreement when opening trust accounts.  However, instead of disclosing the full trust agreement, a better alternative can be to provide a Certificate of Trustee Authority. 

What is a Certificate of Trustee Authority?   It is a short document that summarizes administrative information about the trust that a financial instituion may need, such as the trust name, date, trustee names and the powers held by the trustees.  However, it does not disclose confidential information like the identity of beneficiaries and distribution provisions.  

Wisconsin Statute section 701.1013 provides that a Certificate of Trustee Authority may be furnished to a person (other than a beneficiary) instead of providing a copy of the full trust agreement.  The Statute also says that if you have provided a Certificate of Trustee Authority, then a person making a demand for copies of your trust agreement or excerpts from the trust agreement (other than excerpts from the original trust instrument and later amendments that designate the trustee and confer upon the trustee the power to act in the pending transaction) is liable for costs, expenses, reasonable attorney fees, and damages if the court determines that the person did not act in good faith in demanding the copies.

The next time a financial institution asks for a copy of your trust agreement, consider providing a copy of your Certificate of Trustee Authority instead.  

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