Welcome to the Question and Answer Corner
              Hosted by Nancy P. Moloney
Where your estate planning and probate questions are answered on the web.

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Featured Dilemma:
My husband and I own all of our assets in joint tenancy.  Do we need a living trust?
Dear Mrs. C. B.,

     Joint tenancy is useful for passing title to a surviving joint tenant.  At the death of the second joint tenant, his or her Will would be used to pass title along to the heirs (your children).  In your situation, this would require a probate.   If you wish to avoid probate, then a living trust is a better solution.

     There are several benefits to holding your assets in a living trust:
     (1) there would be no probate at the second death, saving delays and costs,
     (2) in the event of your incapacity during life, your assets would be managed by your trustee without need for a conservatorship,
     (3) you may create a trust which limits the surviving spouse's ability to give away the entire estate to persons other than your children, and              
     (4) you can use both of your estate tax exemptions and transfer up to $2 million free of estate tax.

     Hope this helps.   If you need more details, please give me a call or contact me by email.

Best wishes,
Nancy P. Moloney
Dear Mrs. Moloney,

      My husband and I own our home and a small vacation cabin in joint tenancy.  We have all of our bank accounts and investment accounts in joint tenancy as well.   I am the beneficiary of my husband's life insurance and IRA.   We are both in our early 70's and in good health.

      Our Wills name our three children to inherit our entire estate in equal shares.

      Would a living trust really give us any benefits that our joint tenancy ownership does not?

Mrs. C. B.
Los Angeles, CA.