What worries me about these answers is the lurking fiduciary liability. The trust agreement is the instruction manual on how to operate the trust.
You may think that, since the beneficiaries are your family members, that they would never sue you for breach of fiduciary duty. But, it may not be the current beneficiaries that sue you, but rather, the more remote lineal descendants that the trust will continue to provide future benefits to. It is also important to retain a copy of the trust agreement, in case you need to provide it in order to perform certain trust transactions.
Here are some suggestions: If you know who the drafting attorney was, then you may be able to contact them trust management copying transactions request another copy. But, if the attorney is deceased or retired, you may go on a wild goose hunt finding out where the files were transferred. Investment advisors often times, requested a copy of the trust agreement when the account was opened.
If the trust was a testamentary trust, find trust management copying transactions who the Executor or Administrator of the estate was and contact them.
If the decedent had to file a Federal or State Estate tax return or a gift tax return to report the taxable gift, more than likely, a copy of the trust agreement would have been attached to the return. Ask the prior accountant.
One thing to remember is that trust agreements are not public record. The grantor wanted to keep the trust assets private, hence the difficulty in finding a misplaced trust agreement.
The lesson to be learned, if you are a non-professional trustee, is that you must keep a copy of the trust agreement in a safe place. Never throw away a will or trust agreement! If you have questions about trust documents or how to effectively prepare yourself and your family for the future, contact us at We're happy to help and ready to start the conversation.