Once a person has written a trust, they are left with a rather long document. Trusts can range from a few pages to forty pages or more. Given the burden of lugging around a burdensome document, California law allows for a person to create a certificate of trust to provide third-parties in lieu of providing the trust document itself.
A certificate of trust may contain the following information per Prob C § 18100.5(b)
Two benefits of writing a certificate of trust is that it is (1) much easier to carry around to due its shorter length than a trust and more importantly (2) the certificate of trust maintains the trust's privacy as to distribution specifics, the most confidential part of the trust. One reason why people choose to write trusts is because of the privacy aspect. Generally speaking, a trust document will not become a public record as opposed to a will. A certificate of trust ensures that the trust's privacy remains intact. In particular, the relevant part of the statute reads "The certification of trust shall not be required to contain the dispositive provisions of the trust which set forth the distribution of the trust estate." Prob C § 18100.5(d).
It is standard practice for an attorney to write a certificate of trust for the client along with the trust. This is not particularly difficult for the attorney because the trust contains the required contents of the certificate of trust.