Hello. This is an interesting question. As Mr. Katz indicated, if your father had a trust, the terms of the trust would dictate the disposition of the assets. If you were neither named as a successor trustee or as a beneficiary of the trust, I don't believe there is any legal obligation to include you in the process of settling the trust nor would you be legally entitled to receive a copy of the trust.
HOWEVER, it is important to understand that the trust document would only govern those assets that are registered in the name of the trust. Any assets that your father owned that were not registered in the name of the trust at the time of his passing may be excluded from the trust. For instance, if your dad had retirement accounts or life insurance policies naming you as beneficiary, such designations would supersede the terms of the trust. Similarly, if your dad owned real estate that was just in his name, it would have had to go through the probate process under the terms of his will. Unfortunately for you, if he owned real estate in joint name with his wife, that ownership registration would automatically pass ownership to her as the surviving joint owner.
In sum, even if your dad had a trust, it did not necessarily govern the distribution of his entire estate. As a starting point you may wish to review property ownership records at the local registry of deeds and you may wish to check the probate records for your dad's estate settlement. If you are aware of any old employer retirement plans, IRAs, or lfie insurance policies your dad may have had, you may wish to reach out to those institutions. You may also wish to his state's unclaimed property division. An estate planning attorney may also be able to assist you in researching these matters.
Unfortunately, your experience is not uncommon in instances of second marriages, and it offers a valuable lesson on the importance of taking the time to craft and (perhaps more importantly) properly implement and maintain a comprehensive estate plan.
beneficiary forms can supercede a will (Finance for Teachers) – (Watch the video!
Review of an Existing Estate Plan – Checklist
of 12 Mistakes (about.com)
Planning Mistakes to Avoid (Retirement Watch)
25 Documents You Need Before You Die (Wall Street Journal)
Please note that this discussion is merely intended to raise awareness of important estate planning concepts, and that nothing herein should be construed as specific legal guidance. For such guidance, all readers really should consult with an estate planning attorney. Hope this is helpful.