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Roger
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Category: Estate Law
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If you cannot find the original of a Revocable Trust, is a

Customer Question

If you cannot find the original of a Revocable Trust, is a xeroxed copy legal? If an amendment is not witnessed and notarized, is it legal and if it is the most recent, does it supercede the other amendments?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Roger replied 3 years ago.

A copy of an original trust is legal so long as the parties to the trust, notary and witnesses can properly authenticate the document as a true and correct copy of the original.

 

An amendment is generally not allowed unless it is witnessed and notarized.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
This is in conflict with information on other Internet sites. According to several internet sites, an anendment must be in writing but it does not need to be witnessed or notarized, but it does need to be signed. This is outlined on docstoc.com/docs/6237/Revocable-Trust-Amendment, as well as lgggroup.com/html/plan-and-prosper-pdf/REVOCABLE%20. Also, the web site by Plan & Prosper states it does not need to be notarized or witnessed but it needs to be signed by the Grantor of the Trust and the Trustees. We have amendements signed by the Grantor but not the Trustees. Some amendments were witnessed and notarized but one was only signed by the Grantor. None were signed by the Trustees. Are any of these legal?
Expert:  Roger replied 3 years ago.

If you don't have the amendment signed an notarized, it opens the document up to legal challenges and authenticity problems.

 

The rule has always been that with a will or a trust, any amendment (legally known as a "codicil") must be made in the same form as the original document's posture. This means if the trust is signed, witnessed and notarized, the amendment must be as well.

 

The only way an un-witnessed and un-notarized amendment will pass muster is if ALL beneficiaries agree that the change was made by the person and that they all agree with the change. If your family is anything like most, everyone cannot agree on anything - especially where there is money or inheritance involved.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
The amendment that was not notarized was the only document in my sister's safe deposit box that she opened just this year. No-one else had access to the box. Therefore, would the authenticity still be challenged? Also, if two pages were removed from the original trust would it still be legal if she had amendments that amended those two pages, or does the trust become void if those two pages are missing from the copy? Please note that although the trust was my sister's I do not stand to gain anything one way or another. I am just trying to meet my legal obligations as one of three trustees. My sister had one deceased daughter and one daughter still alive but disabled who was residing with her. The other two trustees are the grandparents of the deceased daughter's children and appear to only be out for their best interests and not that of my niece. I am out for the best interests of all (my niece, 2 great nieces, and 1 great nephew). I just want to ensure that things are being done legally and with my sister's intentions. Thank you..
Expert:  Roger replied 3 years ago.

Yes, authenticity could still be challenged - it could be alleged that someone forced her to put it in there, that it was forged, that she was not in her right mind when she did it, etc. The botXXXXX XXXXXne is if it is not witnessed and/or notarized, there's a problem.

 

If you don't have a complete copy of the document, it would likely be considered void by a court.

 

If everyone can agree on how to divide the corpus (property) of the trust, you can divide it that way. This may cut down on headaches and confusion.

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