This can be a common question, especially in a second marriage or blended family situation. For the quick answer, it is difficult to maintain a joint trust and keep your financial accounts separate but not impossible.
Couples who own joint real estate typically like keeping a joint trust because it is simpler to have one trust own the property entirely, rather than having each of their trusts hold a half interest in the real property. By having a joint trust it is more comfortable to leave property to the survivor of mutual trust.
However, if both spouses are in agreement to keep financials and property separate, then each spouse should have their trust. This comes up a lot with newly married couples who have little property or couples who owned the property before marriage or received an inheritance before the wedding and want to avoid commingling.
However, if both parties are still keen on having a joint trust, then steps may be taken. For instance, in a typical Revocable Trust scenario, all the assets except retirement accounts are owned by the trust. In the case with separate bank accounts, you can choose not to have the trust own the bank account, but instead, list the trust as a beneficiary. Then within the joint trust list the account along with how that particular account should be divided up between heirs.
At the Law Office of Sean Patrick Cox, PLLC, our family law attorneys Grand Rapids MI proudly serve West Michigan families in drafting their estate plans to plan these types of situations. Most importantly if families find themselves in this scenario, we can help guide them through the process and get them to the other side, worry-free.
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