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Can a married couple create a joint revocable trust?

Yes. A married couple can typically create a joint trust agreement, naming themselves as co-trustees. Under this arrangement, the married couple will own the trust assets during their lifetimes.  Upon the death of the first spouse, the surviving spouse will retain control of all of the trust assets during his or her life and also have the ability to change the trust’s final distribution. A joint marital trust is not advisable for every situation, such as for those in second marriages and those with separate assets, but it can be useful for many estate plans.

As a follow up question - if my spouse and myself own all of our assets jointly, why should we create a living trust?

While jointly held assets avoid probate upon the first spouse’s death, a trust would still be advisable upon the death of the second spouse. Potential problems then arise if the surviving spouse is incapacitated and could not establish a trust. Additionally, a joint trust eliminates the possibility of a probate upon a simultaneous death. This means that a joint trust can help avoid probate if both spouses die at or near the same time.

We generally create joint living trusts for many situations. Exceptions to this could be second marriage type situations, for instance, where one spouse did not want to leave all of his or her assets to the surviving spouse.

If you want to learn more about creating your estate plan:

D. Rep DeLoach III
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