If you are a close family member of someone who has died or become incapacitated, you may not know every detail of his estate plan, especially if he has never discussed it much with you. This is a common problem, since death and disability are uncomfortable subjects for many people. However, you may suspect that your family member has created a living trust, but are not sure how to verify it.
In this case, you have a legitimate reason to sort through personal records in search of references to a trust. However, if you are not a family member, dismiss the search; there has to be a better reason than curiosity for delving into private information.
With a valid reason, you may begin your search is a hospital. As long as the patient is competent upon arrival, the hospital normally asks for a list of emergency contacts and someone to make healthcare decisions in case he becomes incapacitated. Along with this information, the patient will usually mention a living trust if he has one.
Another approach is to go through the personal financial records of your family member if you can find them, and scan for any mention of a living trust. Go through securities, bank account statements, property deeds, and tax returns; any property or securities are likely to be held in a trust.
Search also for the name of an attorney or financial planning professional; if he has hired them to represent him, they will work to ensure that his wishes are carried out.
If this search fails, check with offices that keep careful records, such the County Clerk Recorder’s Office or County Assessor’s Office. You can learn from these records whether a living trust exists and what assets it contains.
If you have taken all of these steps and can still find no mention of a living trust, chances are good it doesn’t exist. Living trusts are created to protect assets and family members; it is unlikely that a person who created a trust for these reasons would go out of his way to hide it.
However, situations vary from person to person, so you need to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can advise you according to your individual circumstance.
If you suspect that a family member has created a trust but you are having trouble finding references to it, call the Law Office of Richard Nevins today and set up an appointment. Fill out our information form so that we can be fully aware of your situation before we see you. If a living trust exists, we will apply all of our legal knowledge and experience to help you find it.