My grandmother had a trust and I just found out about it this year. She passed away 10 years ago. I found information about it at the probate court. In the probate court file, there was no proof of service of notification to me. Can I re-open the estate is it was not probably closed? How can I find out whats in the estate? If you dont know what is in the estate, how will you know what is in the trust. How can I find out what was in the estate, if the trustee is not working with me. I heard the statue runs at discovery, is that true!? The trustee used a old address at the time of my grandmothers deaths, instead of my present address at the time. The trustee knew where i resided at the time of her death. The probate file has an old address, when she died.
You do not have enough information to determine how to proceed. It is possible that you may not be able to get the information you need, without re-opening the estate. Since that is expensive and may lead you to nothing, I would suggest that you try the following, first:
1) Obtain a copy of the Will, from the Probate Court. When there is a Trust, there is usually a pour-over Will, transferring any probate assets to the Will.
2) Find out whether or not an Inventory was filed. This will tell you the value of the probate assets. Even if an inventory was not filed, you should be able to approximate the value of the estate, based on the inventory fee that was charged. This should be part of the probate file.
3) While there is unlikely to be a copy of the Trust in the file, the attorney who prepared the Will is very likely the same attorney who prepared the Trust. You should find contact information for the attorney in the probate file. If you contact the attorney, he or she may be willing to provide you with information on the probate file as well as the trust. There may be confidentiality concerns, but if the attorney can keep you from investing a lot of money on a total lost cause, he or she may well give you the information that you need.
Even if notice was not properly given, it does not mean that you were entitled to receive anything from the estate (or the Trust). This may be a case of no harm, no foul.
If you cannot find additional information in this way, it would be hard to determine how to proceed, or whether or not you should. If you WERE named a beneficiary and they "could not locate you", then presumably they would have followed the "missing legatee" laws. If they did not, (and you were a beneficiary), then you may have a claim for that.
Best of luck to you!
I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.
Criminal Defense Attorney
I agree that the above is a good, pretty comprehensive answer. The best starting point is to review the probate court file, obtain a copy of relevant documents from the file, and have them reviewed by an Attorney. The fact that you did not receive notice is not, by itself, a reason to reopen the estate. If notice was published in accordance with applicable court rules, this may not be an issue. You might consider having an attorney make inquiry with the attorney who drafted the Will or Trust, with the Personal Representative of the Probate Estate, or with the Trustee of the Trust estate to determine your status in relation to those administrations before considering legal action to reopen an estate administration.
You should review the file at the probate court. Look for the will to provide you information as to the assets in the estate. You may need an attorney to interpret the language of the document. Are you contesting the distribution of the estate or merely concerned that you didnt receive notice of the final paperwork. if you want a copy of the final paperwork, contact the attorney who handled the Estate, and they will provide you with a copy. If you suspect foul play, contact an attorney to look into the issues further.