Is There A Bear Trap In Your Joint Living Trust?

By Elder Law Attorney and Senior Advocate Rick Law of Law Elder Law in Western Suburban Aurora, Illinois

As we’ve discussed in prior posts, in order to “fund” a trust, all assets must be retitled as belonging to the trust. This can be a daunting task for any couple.  In the interest of efficiency, cost savings and simplicity, many couples have been advised to use one joint living trust for their assets rather than one trust for the husband and one trust for the wife.

A joint trust follows the logic that most couples hold assets in joint tenancy, so a joint trust fits that pattern.

Before 2000, I thought a joint trust was an efficient idea, too. But now that I have worked with hundreds of couples who come to our office due to long-term disabilities, I know that the joint trust can be an issue when one spouse becomes ill.

A joint trust usually has language that requires all assets in the trust must be available to be used for the medical needs of the ill spouse.  What will happen if the now healthy spouse needs care later on? This language prevents the healthy spouse from using legitimate legal means to avoid excessive impoverishment caused by their spouse’s long-term illness.

If you’re ready to start getting your estate in order and secure your assets for the “worst-case” scenario, please give our office a call at 630-585-5200 or 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.


Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine,, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Located just off 1-88 across from the Aurora Premium Outlet Mall.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!

Our Reviews

My wife and I had our first child three years ago. That’s when we decided to set up a trust, should anything happen to either of us. We reached out to Zach Hesselbaum to help us out. He was very thorough and professional throughout the whole process. Zach went above and beyond to make sure that we understood every detail of setting it up and he did an excellent job. We recently had our second child a few months ago. With the new baby, he helped us make the necessary revisions to the trust. Zach made this process great for us! I would definitely recommend using him for any of your estate planning needs!

Tom G., Naperville, IL