How to Find Out If You Are the Beneficiary of a Revocable Trust

By Beverly Bird

A revocable trust is confidential during its creator’s lifetime, unless he chooses to share its details. The creator usually acts as trustee while he is alive, reserving the right to add assets, sell them, remove beneficiaries or add some. If he has an attorney draft the trust documents for him, that attorney generally may not even legally confirm that he has done so. However, this changes significantly when the creator dies.

A revocable trust is confidential during its creator’s lifetime, unless he chooses to share its details. The creator usually acts as trustee while he is alive, reserving the right to add assets, sell them, remove beneficiaries or add some. If he has an attorney draft the trust documents for him, that attorney generally may not even legally confirm that he has done so. However, this changes significantly when the creator dies.

Step 1

Check recorded deeds for real estate owned by the trust’s creator, if you think he has created a trust. These records are generally open to the public with the county recorder. If you’re correct and there is a trust, the deeds will be in the name of the trust. However, it is possible that the creator did make a trust but did not transfer his real estate into it.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 2

Speak with the trust’s creator if you can confirm that he has created a revocable trust. Depending on his good will and your relationship with him, he might tell you if he has named you as a beneficiary, especially if you can present a good reason why you need to know. The law doesn’t require him to tell you, however.

Step 3

Request information from the creator’s attorney after the creator's death. By law, when he dies, the trust changes from revocable to irrevocable. A successor trustee takes over management of the trust in his stead. At this point in time, the attorney may be able to tell you if a trust exists and name the successor trustee.

Step 4

Submit a written request to the successor trustee, asking for a copy of the trust documents. Whether he grants your request depends on the laws in your state. In some states, only named beneficiaries have the right to view the documents. However, in many other states, heirs may make the same request regardless of whether they are named as beneficiaries. Children, grandchildren, parents and spouses usually stand in line to inherit if the decedent did not plan his estate or leave a will, so by law, they must receive notice that the trust is now irrevocable and receive a copy of the documents.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Is a Living Trust Liable or Subject to Probate?

References

Related articles

How Is a Beneficiary Removed from a Will?

When a person is named in a will, he is called a beneficiary. Heirs, on the other hand, are individuals who stand to inherit from a relative who failed to make a will; thus, leaving inheritance division to the laws of intestate succession. Testators, or will makers, may remove beneficiaries from wills by executing specific documents that effectively disinherit the beneficiary -- usually by express terms.

How to Distribute the Assets of a Living Trust After Death

Closing a trust after the grantor’s death is much like probating his will. When a decedent leaves a will, he names an executor to gather his assets and disperse them to his named beneficiaries. When he leaves a trust, the person he names as successor trustee does the same thing. The major difference is that a well-planned trust does not have to pay the decedent’s debts first. They’re usually paid by his probate estate from the cash and assets he did not transfer to his trust during his lifetime.

Removing Real Estate From a Revocable Trust

Revocable trusts are often implemented to avoid probate. A trust's maker, or grantor, retains the power to fully revoke or amend a revocable trust. A trust is governed by its terms and adding or removing real estate from a trust is a power that is usually specifically listed. If a trust lacks this provision, an amendment may be legally required before real estate can be added or removed. Trust requirements may vary, depending on state law.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Does a Trustee Have to Give a Beneficiary a Copy of the Trust?

Rules regarding inheritances are some of the strictest in law. After all, they deal with your lifetime savings and the ...

How to Prepare an Amendment to a Revocable Trust

You create a living trust to transfer assets to the control of a trustee, who has the legal authority to manage the ...

Amending a Testamentary Trust

To set up a testamentary trust, you include language in your last will and testament stating your intention to ...

How to Obtain a Copy of a Living Trust in California

A living trust is a means of transferring property to an individual or group of people. It is created by a person ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED