How to get copy of living trust
January 26, 2015 3:19 PM   Subscribe

My mother-in-law's husband died last year, and she has nominated me to be the administrator of his estate. I have a copy of his living trust, but it is missing the trust related documents, transfer documents, etc. The trust was prepared in 1987. I tried to contact the attorney for the trustor, but it looks like he has either died or retired. Is there a way for me to obtain the missing documents? I live in California.
posted by ottomatik to Law & Government (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The California State Bar and/or the county bar association may be able to point you to an attorney or practice that took over the remaining cases for the "missing" attorney. If the deceased trustor lived outside California, check there. That is probably your best hope if you have been able to go through the trustor's personal papers and did not locate a trust inventory.

Be aware that people were often sold on the concept of the living trust and sold what were essentially boiler-plate formats establishing trusts, but never actually followed through to transfer assets to the trust.

If there is no "blanket" document purporting to transfer trustor's assets into the trust with the trust documents you have found you can check real estate, motor vehicle and banking/investment account records to see if any properties are in the name of the trust. Federal and/or state tax returns may give you some leads.
posted by uncaken at 4:15 PM on January 26, 2015

As administrator of his estate, it sounds like you may be responsible for his will as well as his trust? You will need his widow to go thru his papers and identify all of his assets. You will want her to send you copies of the most recent statements for all of his financial accounts as well as copies of the title to things like houses and cars. Anything that was put into the trust will identify the trust as the owner. For example, a mutual fund in my name gets addressed to Ms. Metahawk, 123 Main St. If it was put into the trust, it comes addressed to Metahawk, trustee, The Metahawk Trust dated 01/01/1987. At the time we created the trust, we made a list of assets that were supposed to go into it but I'm sure that list is out of date. As for transfer documents, the lawyer wrote us a generic letter but it was up to me to actually send it in. I got back a transfer document when I retitled the house (which the lawyer does not have a copy of) but not for financial assets. So, based on my personal experience, even if you find the lawyer someone will still need to go thru the deceased papers to find everything you need.
posted by metahawk at 4:28 PM on January 26, 2015

The trust document should have been filed at the county courthouse for their location. They should be able to send a copy at your MIL's request
posted by path at 4:48 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had to track down an antique trust as part of dealing with my father's estate. The law firm that the lawyer had worked for and then since retired from still had the paperwork for it in the back room. They had someone track it down (for free actually, we sent the person who did it some nice flowers/snacks) which was helpful for some of the taxes.

What other people are saying is useful information: there is the trust and then there is what is IN the trust. Sometimes trusts are created but not "funded" Your m-i-l should be getting back statements from the funds/assets that are in the trust and you can backtrack from there possibly through the money people.
posted by jessamyn at 4:49 PM on January 26, 2015

Attorneys usually keep a copy of the trust agreement but not the records regarding transfers. The client is usually expected to do that and keep the records. Metahawk's points are good. Real estate would have to be retitled in the name of the trustee to be part of the trust property, and that would be on file with the register of deeds.

For everywhere I have ever heard of, this is outright wrong:

> The trust document should have been filed at the county courthouse for their location. They should be able to send a copy at your MIL's request
posted by yclipse at 7:03 PM on January 26, 2015

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