Q: Does a Trust have to be signed and notarized under California law to be valid?
A distant relative created a Trust in 2012, and another Trust in 2016. He funded the 2016 Trust with some real estate.
We have found copies with hand-written edits to the 2016 Trust. It has a place at the bottom for his signature, but the deceased never signed any of them. There is a notary who has a record of notarizing Trust documents for the deceased, but no actual copy of any of the Trusts have been found, and no copy exists with the real estate documents or mortgage company. No copy of the 2012 Trust has ever been found, it is only mentioned in the 2016 Trust.
Are either of the Trusts valid? If the valid Trusts cannot be located, did my relative die intestate under California law?
A: While a California trust does not need to be notarized, it does need to be signed. However, you seem to have evidence that in fact a trust document was signed (notary records) and the 2016 trust was funded with real estate. Depending upon a lot of other facts and factors, it is possible a court petition might avoid probate. An attorney would have to review everything and evaluate.
A: Unfortunately, a lawyer would need to read your documents to answer your question. But I can say this: For a trust to be valid, it must be signed. However, just because a document is signed doesn’t mean all is well. I’ve read some awful trusts people with no legal training prepared and they often cause more problems than they solve. Take your documents to a lawyer in your area for assistance and the lawyer can advise you on your next steps. Best wishes!
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