Anyone can establish a trust without filing any documents with the state of residence. Creating a trust may involve an attorney and, in some cases, a trust administration firm or a bank. A trust is a legally binding document, but does not have to be filed as a public record with any government agency. Potential beneficiaries may need to search for trust account documents upon the death of the trustor (the person who set up the trust), and if the trustor loses track of the original documents, he may also need to search for them. Trust account documents are private, but they can be located in several ways.
Call or write your attorney. If you used legal assistance to establish your trust account, the attorney will have a record of the interactions on file. He will also have copies of any trust account documents created by his office. This should be the first step in the search sequence, because the trust documents do not have to be filed with any public office. The attorney has a legal obligation to retain copies of all documents created with his office for a period of time, even if the files are electronic.
Review your own financial documents, including titles to property and life insurance policies, which may be in your safe or safe deposit box. When you created your trust, you likely transferred ownership to your trust and the documents will reveal the name of the trust. The name of the trust account will allow you to conduct a search at a financial institution.
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Call, write or visit your financial institution's trust department, pressing it to provide copies of any trust account documents it may have on file. If you have the name of the trust account, the search is easy, but if you do not have the name, you can provide the financial institution with your own name and Social Security number, which will allow it to search for any trust account you may have with the institution.
Contact your life insurance company, even if you cannot locate a policy. The insurance company can use your personal identification information to locate any policies you may have had, even if the policy has been transferred to a trust account. If the life insurance policy was set up as a part of the trust account, your name will still be attached to it and should be searchable. The policy will have the name of the trust account on it.
Review the title to any real estate you have or have had. If the property was added to the trust account, the change will be a part of the public record and is searchable. Even if it is no longer in your name, the title will list previous owners and will reveal the name of the trust account.
Darryl James, a syndicated columnist and freelance writer in the Los Angeles area has written for more than 15 years for "New York Newsday," "Pittsburgh Courier," "The Los Angeles Sentinel," "Women's Wear Daily," "Apparel News," "Rap Sheet" and more. James has written books and has just finished his first screenplay.