How to Find Out If Someone Had a Living Trust

How to Find Record of a Living Trust

Consider your motives. The only reason an individual should investigate another person's financial records is upon his death, or mental or physical incapacity, and only if you are a close friend or family member. Curiosity about someone's financial status is not a legitimate reason to invade his privacy.

Check with the hospital. If an individual enters a hospital's care while conscious and competent, he will be asked to name emergency contacts and designate an individual to make health care decisions for him should he become incapacitated. If he has a living trust, he will often put it on file with the hospital.

Go through the financial records of the incapacitated or deceased individual. If you are fortunate, you will find his trust papers. If you don't find the trust papers, there can be other clues. In a living trust, most of the individual's bank accounts and investment portfolio will be part of the trust. The statements will say, "The Smith Family Trust," or something similar. Tax returns and property deeds should also be in the trust's name.

Look for a phone number of a lawyer and/or financial planner. Contact them and let them know your situation. Also, if you happen to live in a smaller community, you could call all of the lawyers and financial planners in your area and inform them of your friend or relative's incapacity. If they represented that person, they will act accordingly.

Accept that your relative or friend may not have a trust. If you have followed the previous steps and not found anything, your relative most likely does not, or did not, have a living trust. The point of a living trust is to protect yourself and your estate. If a person has gone to the trouble and expense of creating a living trust, it's unlikely that it will be hidden. A trustee is always appointed to a trust and that person is either someone close to the individual or a trusted lawyer or financial planner. If you find no trace of a trust, and no one close to the individual is aware of one, it probably does not exist. If the individual had an attorney create a will, it is usually filed with the local county clerk and will become public record upon the individual's death.