Title Insurance Requirements for Insuring Trusts

November 4, 2023

Discover the benefits of holding real estate in a living trust with our comprehensive guide on title insurance requirements and processes.

In an era where probate courts are overwhelmed and death taxes can be burdensome, the living trust has emerged as a popular method for holding real estate. This guide aims to shed light on the intricacies of title insurance when real property is held in a living trust, providing clarity on the requirements and processes involved.

Understanding Trusts and Title Insurance

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal arrangement where a trustor grants a trustee the authority to manage and hold title to assets for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. This setup plays a crucial role in estate planning, offering a streamlined approach to asset management and distribution.

Can a Trust Acquire Real Property?

It's important to note that a trust, in itself, cannot own or convey property. Instead, these actions are carried out by the trustee, acting on behalf of the trust, within the boundaries of the powers granted by the trust agreement.

Title Insurance Requirements for Trusts

Essentials for Trustee Title Holding

When a trustee holds title to property within a trust, title companies typically require a certification of trust. This document must include:

  • The trust's execution date.
  • Identities of the trustor and trustee.
  • The trustee's powers.
  • Details of any revocation rights.
  • Trustees' signature authority.
  • Instructions for titling trust assets.
  • Legal descriptions of property interests held by the trust.
  • Confirmation that the trust remains unaltered in a way that would invalidate the certification, signed by all acting trustees.

Disclosing Trust Details to Title Companies

While you might wish to keep certain trust details private, such as allocations to charities, title companies may need a complete copy of the trust. However, they might accept copies with sensitive amounts redacted.

Signing Requirements

If a trust has multiple trustees, the trust agreement must specify whether all or just one can sign on behalf of the trust. Additionally, trustees can delegate their powers through a power-of-attorney only if expressly allowed by the trust.

Replacing Trustees

In situations where trustees are unable or unwilling to act, and the trustor cannot appoint a new one, a court may intervene to appoint a successor.

Notarizing Trustee Signatures

The acknowledgment of a trustee's signature by a notary must reflect the trustee's role, whether as an individual or a corporation, to accurately vest title in the trustee.

Deed Wording for Trustee Transfers

Typically, deeds to trustees are worded to clearly indicate the trustees' names and the trust's details, such as "John Doe and Mary Doe, as trustees of the Doe family trust, under declaration of trust dated January 1, 1992."

Limitations on Trustee Actions

Trustees are primarily limited by the trust's provisions, which dictate their actions. However, the probate code offers general powers that, unless restricted by the trust, are deemed sufficient by title insurers for transactions involving sale, conveyance, and refinancing.


Understanding the requirements for insuring trusts is crucial for anyone involved in estate planning or managing real estate within a trust. By adhering to these guidelines, trustees can ensure that the process is as smooth and efficient as possible, safeguarding the interests of all parties involved.

Take Action

For those navigating the complexities of title insurance for trusts, seeking professional advice is invaluable. Consider consulting with a legal expert specializing in trusts and estate planning to ensure compliance and protect your assets.

By staying informed and prepared, you can navigate the intricacies of title insurance for trusts with confidence, ensuring a secure legacy for your beneficiaries.

Tim M. Clarke

About the author

17 years as a Realtor in the Research Triangle, Tim seeks to transform the Raleigh-Durham real estate scene through a progressive, people-centered approach prioritizing trust & transparency.

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