If your parent's living trust is lost and cannot be found, it is important to act immediately. There are a few things you can do:
- Search thoroughly for the trust. Look in all of the places where your parents kept their important documents, such as their safe deposit box, home safe, and filing cabinets. You may also want to check with their attorney or accountant to see if they have a copy of the trust.
- Contact the California State Bar Association. The California State Bar Association may be able to help you locate a copy of the trust if it was prepared by an attorney.
- File a petition with the probate court. If you are unable to locate a copy of the trust, you may need to file a petition with the probate court to have a new trust created. This is a complex process, so it is important to consult with an attorney.
California Probate Code on lost trusts
California Probate Code Section 18200 states that if a trust instrument is lost or destroyed, the trustee or any beneficiary may file a petition with the probate court to have the trust instrument reestablished. The petition must be accompanied by a copy of the trust instrument, if available, or a written statement describing the trust instrument and the circumstances surrounding its loss or destruction.
The probate court will hold a hearing on the petition and will consider any evidence that is presented. If the court is satisfied that the trust instrument is lost or destroyed, the court may order the trustee to create a new trust instrument that is as nearly identical to the lost or destroyed trust instrument as possible.
What a family member can do if the living trust cannot be located
If you are a family member of someone whose living trust cannot be located, you should first try to search for the trust yourself. If you are unable to locate the trust, you should contact the California State Bar Association or an attorney to discuss your options.
If you need to file a petition with the probate court to have a new trust created, an attorney can help you with the process. The attorney can also represent you in court at the hearing on the petition. This is a slightly more sophisticated type of application and hearing process that would be difficult to go it alone.
It is important to note that the process of reestablishing a lost trust can be time-consuming and expensive. It is also important to note that if the trust instrument is not found, the court may have to make certain assumptions about the terms of the trust. This could lead to disputes among the beneficiaries.
For these reasons, it is important to take steps to protect your living trust and make sure that it is properly stored. You should also keep a copy of the trust instrument in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box or with a trusted friend or family member.
Keeping copies of estate planning documents in digital vaults
In addition to the traditional methods of storing estate planning documents, such as in a safe deposit box or with an attorney, you can also store them in a digital vault. A digital vault is a secure online storage service that can be used to store a variety of digital files, including estate planning documents.
There are a number of benefits to storing estate planning documents in a digital vault, including:
- Convenience: Digital vaults are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. This makes it easy to access your estate planning documents when you need them, even if you are traveling or out of town.
- Security: Digital vaults use encryption to protect your documents from unauthorized access. This means that your documents are safe and secure, even if the digital vault is hacked.
- Peace of mind: Knowing that your estate planning documents are safely stored in a digital vault can give you peace of mind. You can be confident that your documents will be there when you need them, and that they will be accessible to your loved ones after you are gone.
If you are considering storing your estate planning documents in a digital vault, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Choose a reputable digital vault provider. There are a number of different digital vault providers available, so it is important to do your research and choose a provider that has a good reputation for security and reliability.
- Encrypt your documents before storing them in the digital vault. Even though digital vaults use encryption to protect your documents, it is a good idea to encrypt your documents before storing them in the digital vault. This will add an extra layer of security to your documents.
- Keep a copy of your digital vault password in a safe place. If you forget your digital vault password, you will not be able to access your documents. It is important to keep a copy of your password in a safe place, such as with a trusted friend or family member.
Overall, storing estate planning documents in a digital vault is a convenient and secure way to protect your documents. If you are considering storing your documents in a digital vault, be sure to choose a reputable provider and encrypt your documents before storing them.
Here are some additional tips for using a digital vault to store your estate planning documents:
- Share access to your digital vault with your loved ones. Let your executor, attorney, and other trusted family members know that you have stored your estate planning documents in a digital vault and share the access information with them. This will ensure that they can access your documents when needed.
- Update your digital vault regularly. Make sure to update your digital vault with any changes to your estate planning documents. You should also review your digital vault regularly to make sure that all of your documents are still there.
- Store a copy of your digital vault password in a safe place. As mentioned above, it is important to keep a copy of your digital vault password in a safe place in case you forget it. You may want to consider storing the password with your attorney or another trusted advisor.
By following these tips, you can use a digital vault to safely and securely store your estate planning documents.