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Trusts & Estates Law/trust beneficiary deceased?


My mother passed away in 2006 in Georgia. Unfortunately I was unable to handle her probate at the time. My father (Parents divorced for 45 years)told me recently that my mother's parents left money to her possibly in the form of a trust. I know depending on the way the trust would be set up that monies, could transfer to my mother's sole kin. The trust would be through my aunt's family I would imagine. The only info I can find on my own since I don't have funds to hire a lawyer is online.
What comes up is ????? Family Trust. Is there a way to find out if I have money coming? I have not been in contact with that side of my family for 18 years. Not even sure if they know my mother passed.
The grantor of the trust resided in California and the trustee resides in California as well. I live in Denver.

Thank you for your question.  Since it's a California trust, you do have a right to find out information from the trustee.  However, if the trustee claims that the trust is no longer in existence, it might be very difficult (or almost impossible) to find out any information.  At the very least I 'd suggest that you send the trustee a letter via priority mail (signature required) letting him/her know that your mother is now deceased and asking for a copy of the trust document.  There's a slim chance that you might also be able to find out some information about the trust in the county courthouse.  I'd suggest that you search online for "XYZ county probate court records" in the county where the grantor resided and also in the county where the trustee resides.  Some counties have extensive information available online; others have very little.

Search under the name of the Grantor to see if his/her will was "lodged" with the probate court in the county where s/he resided.  If so, the will may be a "pourover" type will, which would have the name of the trust in it.  Search under the name of the trustee to see if s/he has been involved in any probate court cases.  Again, you may get lucky.

Hope this helps.

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Janet Brewer


BE CAREFUL about taking legal advice from non-lawyers.

I am a licensed attorney in California. I am available to answer questions about probating estates, preparing wills and trusts, administering estates and trusts, forming family limited partnerships and limited liability companies, and establishing a wide variety of estate and gift tax-sensitive trusts (charitable trusts, children's trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, etc.).

I can also answer questions regarding the preparation of estate tax returns (Form 706) in taxable estates. Please note that I do not prepare trust income tax returns and cannot provide you with any information about that type of return.

Please note: I am only able to practice law in the State of California. I cannot answer specific questions about other states' laws; I can only provide some "general" information that may or may not apply to your situation.


I have practiced California estate, gift-planning, and probate law exclusively since 1991. I am certified as a specialist in estate planning and probate law by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization (there are less than 125 such specialists practicing in Santa Clara County and fewer than 7,000 practicing in California - out of over 170,000 lawyers statewide).

I have served as an Instructor in the CFP (certificate in financial planning) program at University of California Santa Cruz, teaching the estate planning segment.

Silicon Valley Bar Association
Wealth Counsel
Wealth Advisors' Forum
Executive Committee Member, Solo and Small Firm Section of the California State Bar (appointed to a 3 year term by the California State Bar Board of Governors)

I received my law degree (J.D.) from University of Denver Law School in 1975. I was admitted to the Colorado Bar in 1975 and to the California Bar in 1977 (NOTE: although I am a member of the Colorado Bar, I am on INACTIVE status there). I earned an M.B.A. in 1982, and I earned a Masters Degree in Taxation Law (LLM) at Golden Gate University Law School in 2010 (with honors).

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2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, & 2012 - chosen as a "SuperLawyer" - one of the top 5% of Northern California lawyers practicing in the estate planning and probate area ( Avvo Rating of 10.0/10.0

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