Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lost Deeds to Trust

You're a trustee.  What are you the trustee of?  The trust, right?  Ok, so what does the trust consist of?  One of the first things you should do as a new trustee is create an inventory of the trust assets.  Hopefully you can somewhat rely on a written inventory left by the creator of the trust, but don't stop there. You have an obligation to do a little investigative work to find all trust assets.

For many years, it was customary practice to sign a deed at the time the trust was created.  The type of deed often used was a Quit Claim deed. It was very common that the client would be instructed to hold the deed with their important documents without recording it with the County Register of Deeds.  Now, trust practices have changed somewhat, but more on that in a future post.

Knowing this, new trustees should determine whether there were any deeds transferring real estate to trust, and whether or not those deeds were recorded.  Since a lost deed could cause a probate of the real estate, if you've become the trustee due to your loved one's incapacity (not death), you should act quickly.  If there is real estate that has not been properly transferred to the trust and the property owner/trust settlor is living, there's still a chance to sign the appropriate documents to complete the transfer to trust.  If the trust settlor is living but lacks the capacity to sign a deed, the property owner's agent under a valid general durable power of attorney could have the authority to sign a deed transferring the property to the trust, thereby saving the estate the expense of probate.

If you have questions about any aspect of trust administration, feel free to contact me.  You'll find me online at www.lawofficeofjoannehinds, or at

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