Dad has died. You can’t find any paperwork and your brother says he is in charge. You need information. Our Rocklin probate and estate planning firm will help you get answers. And if you missed our blog about stolen inheritances, you can find it by clicking this link here: Stolen Inheritances.
Locating Missing Trusts
Dad said he made a Trust, but you can’t find it. What do you do? The first step is to be logical in your search. People tend to save important documents together with other important documents. Besides looking in the obvious places, like file cabinets and bankers boxes in the garage, look in less obvious places like safes. We tend to strongly value our estate planning documents because they are our final wishes. Trusts and Wills may be kept in a safe deposit box at the bank or a fire safe at home for extra protection. They likely won’t be in a place where they be damaged by moisture or tossed out with old newspapers. And don’t forget to ask other relatives if they are aware of Dad’s Trust or Will.
If you still can’t find documents there are two obvious possibilities: 1) there really never was one, or 2) someone else has them. Before sounding alarms, however, it is time to look for evidence of estate planning.
Traces of Missing Trusts
Our probate law firm can search through public records to locate traces of a Trust. But you can start the search yourself by checking other records. Anything that has a “title” can have the Trust listed. Did you check the mail? Bank statements will list a Trust if the accounts were titled properly. Email records are another place to look for statements that may show a Trust name. If bank statements or tax records list a Trustee, chances are that Trust is still around somewhere.
A car usually is not in a Trust. Unless a client owns a Silver Ghost Rolls Royce or other collectable, cars tend to depreciate in value quickly. Because of this, we usually don’t bother hassling with the DMV to change the registered owner on our commuter cars to the Trust. But you can still check insurance cards to make sure.
The property most often titled in Trust is our home. The reason to title our home in Trust is to avoid probate. See our article, “A Small Estate Affidavit to Avoid Probate,’ to find out more. So, another way to see if there is a Trust is to look through property records.
Missing Trusts – Trustee Won’t Share Information
As a probate attorney, my job is to solve problems for my clients. If dad has passed and someone else has the Trust, chances are they are working on the process. Usually we ask our children to be our Trustee because they know our family and our property well – not because they have experience. This inexperience can lead to suspicion, especially if the Trustee hasn’t hired a probate attorney to help them through the process. When a Trust becomes irrevocable, all heirs and beneficiaries must be notified. See Probate Code Sec. 16061.7. If it has been more than 60 days since dad died, you’ve requested a copy of the documents, and you still haven’t heard anything, that is when you should call us for help.
Our Rocklin probate firm can help you get answers. We start with a 20-minute free consultation call to discuss your situation. We resolve problems before they become a conflict and can represent you in court to make sure you get your fair share. Schedule today to get started.