How to know if parents had a will or trust when they died

Gather up whenever financial records may be available to you. If in those records you see the word trust, or trustee, then your parents probably had a trust when they died, and you’ll need to have the trustee distribute their estate according to the terms of the trust. If you don’t see anything like that, there may not be a trust. One other place to check is the deed to their home. If you find a deed that shows the house was conveyed to a trust then there probably is a trust that needs to be located.

You’ll need to search to see if your parents had a will. Most people keep their wills either in their home or in a safety deposit box at their local bank. Wherever it is, you must find the will so it can be submitted to the probate court.

If you don’t find either a trust or will, then you will probably have to do a probate. Some assets like bank accounts and life insurance policies may have a beneficiary designation that will avoid the need for probate. However, if there is no beneficiary designation then you’ll have to do a probate in order to get those assets transferred to the heirs.

Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman


The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307