Yes, a will becomes a matter of public record during the probate process, and a copy can be obtained upon request to the Surrogate’s Court. A living trust is a private document that is not subject to public scrutiny.
However, a “pour-over” will becomes a matter of public record when it is submitted for probate, and the “pour-over” often incorporates the living trust by reference. In addition, when title to real property is transferred into a living trust as part of the funding process, the consent of the mortgagee is required. Before giving consent to the transfer of mortgaged property, the mortgagee typically requires that the living trust document be recorded, with the deed, at the office of the county clerk.
The living trust can then become part of the publicly-accessible records.
If you or a family member need assistance with living trusts call me at (716) 542-5444.