Creation of a “Trust” in California
CALIFORNIA CODES – PROBATE CODE SECTION 15200-15211 – re Trusts
15200. Subject to other provisions of this chapter, a trust may be created by any of the following methods:
(a) A declaration by the owner of property that the owner holds the property as trustee.
(b) A transfer of property by the owner during the owner’s lifetime to another person as trustee.
(c) A transfer of property by the owner, by will or by other instrument taking effect upon the death of the owner, to another person as trustee.
(d) An exercise of a power of appointment to another person as trustee.
(e) An enforceable promise to create a trust.
15201. A trust is created only if the settlor properly manifests an intention to create a trust.
15202. A trust is created only if there is trust property.
15203. A trust may be created for any purpose that is not illegal or against public policy.
15204. A trust created for an indefinite or general purpose is not invalid for that reason if it can be determined with reasonable certainty that a particular use of the trust property comes within that purpose.
15205. (a) A trust, other than a charitable trust, is created only if there is a beneficiary.
(b) The requirement of subdivision (a) is satisfied if the trust instrument provides for either of the following:
(1) A beneficiary or class of beneficiaries that is ascertainable with reasonable certainty or that is sufficiently described so it can be determined that some person meets the description or is within the class.
(2) A grant of a power to the trustee or some other person to select the beneficiaries based on a standard or in the discretion of the trustee or other person.
15206. A trust in relation to real property is not valid unless evidenced by one of the following methods:
(a) By a written instrument signed by the trustee, or by the trustee’s agent if authorized in writing to do so.
(b) By a written instrument conveying the trust property signed by the settlor, or by the settlor’s agent if authorized in writing to do so.
(c) By operation of law.
15207. (a) The existence and terms of an oral trust of personal property may be established only by clear and convincing evidence.
(b) The oral declaration of the settlor, standing alone, is not sufficient evidence of the creation of a trust of personal property.
(c) In the case of an oral trust, a reference in this division or elsewhere to a trust instrument or declaration means the terms of the trust as established pursuant to subdivision (a).
15208. Consideration is not required to create a trust, but a promise to create a trust in the future is enforceable only if the requirements for an enforceable contract are satisfied.
15209. If a trust provides for one or more successor beneficiaries after the death of the settlor, the trust is not invalid, merged, or terminated in either of the following circumstances:
(a) Where there is one settlor who is the sole trustee and the sole beneficiary during the settlor’s lifetime.
(b) Where there are two or more settlors, one or more of whom are trustees, and the beneficial interest in the trust is in one or more
of the settlors during the lifetime of the settlors.
15210. A trust created pursuant to this chapter which relates to real property may be recorded in the office of the county recorder in
the county where all or a portion of the real property is located.
15211. A trust for a noncharitable corporation or unincorporated society or for a lawful noncharitable purpose may be performed by the trustee for only 21 years, whether or not there is a beneficiary who can seek enforcement or termination of the trust and whether or not the terms of the trust contemplate a longer duration.
This is for information only about California probate law and is not the providing of legal or tax services. You must consult with an experienced estate planning attorney about creation of a “trust” in California.