If a loved one passed away and you are aware or were told that they created a trust and named you as a trustee or a beneficiary, you will need to find the original or a copy of the validly executed trust documents, which can sometimes prove challenging if the trustor did not take steps to notify the appropriate people.
Problems arise when the originals can’t be found, or the originals are incomplete. Furthermore, people might rely on incomplete documents if they are not careful to make sure that they are valid and most importantly reflect the intent of the original trust creator. So what do I do?
While there certainly could be evidence that a trust existed, for example a will that states that assets are to be “poured over” into a trust, or real property or accounts are in trust name, that still doesn’t tell you enough information on how the trust assets should actually be handled.
Since the living trust is a private document that does not get submitted for recording or is publicly available, retaining the original and the copies of trust documents is essential.
Here are some common places that a trust may exist:
A certificate of trust cannot be used as a substitute as it generally does not list the beneficiaries or the trustees. Most importantly it does not contain the operative provisions of the trust regarding distribution of assets.
Some documents might evidence the existence of the trust, but the Court may need to ultimately decide who is a rightful successor to property.
If you still can’t find it, you may need to file for a Petition for Instruction from the Probate Court, and bring evidence to support the claim, in order to effectively distribute the trust assets. If there is no other recourse, the Court may request for probate to be filed to prove rightful succession to the assets if there are no other ways to re-create the terms of the trust.
For more information contact our attorneys: www.aristovlaw.com/