Finding a Missing Living Trust

trust lawyers in Orange County

It takes several regular meetings with trust lawyers in Orange County or other legal professionals to plan assets and create a trust. But all of that is worth it when that living trust comes into action.

However, it's very possible to misplace the actual physical copy of a trust document. Section 15800 of the California Probate covers your rights to petition in court and receive the terms of the trust, remove a trustee, and more. As beneficiaries of living trusts, you have several rights that require fiduciary duties from the trustee and other professional agents.

What are your options when you aren't in possession of the trust documents? In this article, we'll go over the steps you can take to retrieve trust documents with the help of trust lawyers in Orange County, CA.

We provide this information for general information purposes, but we recommend getting in touch with a law firm for personalized advice and assistance.

Can Beneficiaries Obtain a Copy of the Estate Accounts? 

A revocable living trust is private and can be revoked at any time, which means that only the living trustors have the right to the full text of their trust. However, after their death, a revocable trust becomes an irrevocable trust, and the beneficiaries then have a right to a copy.

If you are the beneficiary of this type of trust, you are entitled to a copy of their documents after the death of your parent or a trustor.  However, if the trust has multiple trustors, things can become complicated, depending on the instructions in the trust.

As a direct beneficiary, you have the right to an accounting from the trustee because you are considered an equitable owner of the trust assets and accounts. Always remember that you can request to see a trust's bank statements and file a petition in court if your trustee does not supply them upon request.

However, there are some limits to your access to irrevocable trusts. Special needs trusts, for example, appoint a trustee who will manage the assets and provide regular disbursements that will not interfere with government benefits. Similar limits apply to charitable trusts.

A living trust attorney in Orange County can help you sort out the specifics and understand your rights as a beneficiary.

Here are some of the items that can be found in an estate trust:

  • Real estate
  • Financial accounts, including bank accounts, annuities, and more
  • Income generated by assets, including investment portfolios
  • Life insurance
  • Valuable personal property, like vehicles

What Steps Do I Take to Find My Missing Trust?

Living trusts are a valuable tool for distributing assets. As your parents create this legal document, they will work with living trust attorneys to set up plans for trust administration, inheritances for loved ones like yourself, and more. It may also include information about advance directives, power of attorney (POA), and burial plans.

Your parents are the only individuals who have access to their living trust while they are still alive. Until they pass away, their full estate plans are private.

Losing the only copy of the trust means that you'll need to take several extra steps to access your inheritance. Trust lawyers can step in and ensure that you receive trust property.

Parker Law Offices can help trustees and beneficiaries avoid probate by petitioning in court.

Section 17200 (B): What is the Court Capable Of?

The probate court may require you to submit a petition and undergo a lengthy legal process if you lose or misplace a copy of your parent’s trust. But it's possible to get legal services that will help you use the California Probate Code 850 Petition to receive your inheritance as originally intended.

The California Probate Code 850 Petition provides several options that you can pursue. Some examples include:

  • Approving or disapproving the trustee’s actions (17200(B)(1))
  • Rule on Trust Accountings  (17200(B)(1))
  • Right to compel a copy of the trust (16061.5)
  • Transfer of property belonging to the decedent (850 Heggstad petition)

However, it can be tough to parse probate code on your own. An experienced lawyer can handle all of the legal issues related to your trust and inheritance. Parker Law Offices serves the entirety of Orange County, from Laguna Beach and Mission Viejo to Buena Park.

Tips on Safekeeping Trusts

If you're concerned about losing a trust and still have yours, it may be time to invest in proper storage for your legal documents.

The best lawyers recommend a fireproof, waterproof safe for storing essential papers. Regardless of any natural disasters, your trust will remain intact and easy to find without a search.

Another good idea is to maintain multiple copies. You can keep some copies with your attorney, in a safety deposit box, or another secure location.

Building a Trust-Based Estate Plan With Parker Law Offices

Petitioning the court in the US is a long, arduous process with multiple steps. The California courts estimate that each step can take more than a month, and the entire case can take anywhere from nine months to over a year, or even longer.

Hiring an experienced living trust attorney in Orange County will ensure that you can receive your inheritance through the court process in a timely manner, even when all the documents are not available. We can help you submit an 850 Heggstad Petition that will provide a court order, allowing you to claim the assets you are entitled to. Our team has experience with courts in Santa Ana and Costa Mesa.

Each individual case is different, and our law office thrives on handling each case. We establish an effective attorney-client relationship with thoughtful conversations. Our team can help you bypass having to present the actual estate planning documents, including the will or trust.

Frequently Asked Questions About Finding a Missing Trust

When you are missing a copy of a trust, you may be concerned about probate, accessing the assets contained in the trust, and more. We've answered some of the most common questions from clients.

Am I entitled to a copy of the trust as a beneficiary?

Once a trust becomes irrevocable, you are legally entitled to a copy of the trust documents from an attorney or successor trustee, if available.

Can you inherit assets without a trust or will?

Yes. Various sections of the California Probate Code allow for situations where you are entitled to receive assets even with a missing will or living trust.

Do wills and trusts serve the same purpose?

Legally, a living will and living trust serve different purposes. A living trust is a private document, which can be troublesome if it ever gets lost. Trusts are often far more specific and detailed than wills, although there is some overlap.

Trusts are vital for getting your inheritance smoothly and avoiding the probate process and potential estate taxes. When they do get lost, Parker Law Offices can provide solutions. Our experienced lawyer has years of experience working in the Orange County, California area.To schedule a free consultation with an Orange County living trust attorney, you may fill out our online form or contact us at Parker Law Offices today!

Maria Parker assists her clients plan for their end of life health care wishes and the ultimate distribution of their wealth after death. She personally experienced the importance of planning at the time her father passed away.

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