How can I locate a trust?

Q: My niece’s mother died in 2008 and supposedly there is a trust for her once she reaches age 27. Her dad just died this past October, and her stepmother is of no help to her. Also, she no longer lives in Michigan where her parents are from. Is there anything I can do to track it down to help her? Thank you.

A: There is no central registration or central repository where these are filed. IF this trust instrument was filed, it would likely be filed in the jurisdiction where the trustor/settlor had residency. You can start by searching the probate court in the County Department of Court Records. Often, real estate is part of a trust. Therefore, you could also check the County Recorder’s office (where deeds are filed) to see if a deed was filed in the name of the trust. Also, sometimes trust notices are advertised if the trust instrument was filed and real estate transfers are listed in legal newspapers and papers of general circulation in the county with jurisdiction. You could call the legal journal and main newspaper for that county and see if they have an archival data base. If it cannot be located, you might try to call lawyers in the area to see if any of them drafted the trust. I get calls occasionally from people in search of a lawyer who may have drafted a loved one’s will. It might be hard to find but you may get lucky with just a few calls.


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