When it comes to a trust, it may not always be clear who the beneficiaries are. The reason for this is that a trust beneficiary doesn’t actually have any rights with regards to the trust, while the trustor (the person who made the trust) is still alive. So if you suspect that you may be a beneficiary of your great uncle’s trust, but he has yet to confirm it and it isn’t likely he will, how can you go about finding this information?
Because of the laws that are in place surrounding trusts, unless you are a close relative of the trustor, or the trustor doesn’t have any issue telling you that you are one of or the beneficiary of the trust, you may not know until the creator of the trust has died. There are some things you can do, however, to try to determine if you are in fact a beneficiary of a revocable trust, while the trustor is still alive.
The first is to ask the trustor yourself, which may mean asking in a manner that does not make the trustor feel at all threatened by your inquiry. Simply say that you do not wish to know what exactly is contained in the trust, but that you would like to be prepared when the time comes, should you be one of the beneficiaries.
If asking the trustor yourself whether or not you are a beneficiary is totally out of the question, you may wish to ask who the trust’s successor is. Because the successor trustee will be in charge of handling all affairs of the trust after the trustor has died, you will be able to contact them once the trustor has passed away and can ask them if you are in fact a beneficiary.
In some instances, the successor trustee may not be particularly cooperative and is unwilling to tell you whether or not your are a beneficiary or to designate the portion of the trust that is meant for you. In this situation, you may have to hire a lawyer to go after that which is rightfully your own. In some states, on the other hand, a successor trustee will be legally required to let a person know when they are a trust’s beneficiary.