When creating an estate plan, many married couples in the Anaheim area set up a joint living trust. The terms of any trust are highly customized to the personal needs of those who create it. However, administering a joint living trust is unique when the first spouse passes away. In many cases, the successor trustee is left with less work to do after the death of the first spouse than would be required if the trust were not a joint trust. The following are some helpful tips about the administration of a joint living trust:
- It is generally not necessary to determine or pay the debts of the spouse who passed away.
- The trust will continue for the benefit of the surviving spouse, and he or she will continue to be liable for the debts.
- Trustees generally do not have to prepare an accounting or plan of distribution when the first spouse dies, since the assets will remain with the surviving spouse. Typically, the surviving spouse is also the successor trustee.
- For trustees of joint living trusts where a distribution is to be made to someone other than the surviving spouse, the trustee may want to consider preparing an accounting.
- The trustee should still consider obtaining appraisals of the trust assets after the death of the first spouse.
- Title to the assets held in the trust should be updated to remove the name of the pre-deceased spouse.
- Depending on the terms of the trust, it may need to be split into separate shares after the death of the first spouse. Determining which assets should go to which trust share will depend on various factors, including tax considerations and the use and type of each asset.
Administering a joint living trust following the death of the first spouse is more efficient with the knowledge and guidance of an experienced professional. For more information and a consultation, call our office today.