Author Topic: Legal question: is there a public record for a trust?  (Read 223 times)  

Offline Bob Stewart

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Legal question: is there a public record for a trust?
« on: October 12, 2017, 10:22:10 AM »
In my current book (taking place in 1970, New York State), a guy hears that a distant cousin may have left money for him in a trust that won't begin dispensing payments until sometime in the future (years after the cousin's death).

I have two questions: #1, is that plausible?

And #2, is there a public record of a trust like this? Some place someone who had the names involved could verify its existence?

Thanks!

Offline Arches

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Re: Legal question: is there a public record for a trust?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 12:32:35 PM »
Most trusts don't have to be recorded with the government, just like most wills aren't. It's very plausable that someone might be a trust beneficiary and only learn about it through happenstance.

Offline Jena H

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Re: Legal question: is there a public record for a trust?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 01:39:53 PM »
IANAL, but my belief is that, like a will, the details of a trust won't be made public until the benefactor dies.  Sure, people can talk all they like ("I heard he cut his son out of his new will") and the character could hear about it through the grapevine, but until the person dies and the will and assets go through probate, nothing would be definitely known by the general public for sure until after the cousin kicks the bucket. 

As for your second question, I believe the kind of trust you're describing is a testamentary trust.  If so, since the terms of the testamentary trusts are located within the decedent's will, they are part of the public record.

If you're not talking about a testamentary trust, then all bets are off and I have no idea.   8)

*Edited to fix typos.  Also to add:  look up testamentary trust.   ;)
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 01:49:21 PM by Jena H »
Jena

Offline Bob Stewart

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Re: Legal question: is there a public record for a trust?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 03:40:57 PM »
Thank you both.

From what I've just read, it sounds like a testamentary trust is the only type of trust that would enter the public record. So if someone set up a trust that delayed disbursements until January 1, XXXX and it wasn't dependent on when that person dies, it would NOT be part of the public record. (Which is my objective, since if it were part of the public record, it would undermine my opening chapter. ;-)

Online loraininflorida

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Re: Legal question: is there a public record for a trust?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 08:41:31 PM »
What you are describing sounds like a Revocable Trust. The Grantor can put whatever terms he/she wants in it. If the Grantor dies then it's up to the Trust's Trustee to carry out the terms of the Trust. It isn't connected to Probate (usually it's used to specifically avoid Probate) or the State.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 08:43:49 PM by loraininflorida »

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Offline Arches

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Re: Legal question: is there a public record for a trust?
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 08:41:52 PM »
The main way most wills and trusts become public information is that someone files a lawsuit to enforce a disputed provision or probate an estate. There is no registry for wills or trusts, like an SEC filing system or land title filing system or UCC security filing system. And even when a lawsuit is filed, one or more parties may try to seal portions of the court record to keep the terms of a will or trust secret.