What happens to a joint trust when one spouse dies?

When one spouse dies, the joint trust will continue to operate for the benefit of the surviving spouse as a “Survivor's Trust.”

Any specific gifts of tangible property from the first spouse to beneficiaries (other than the surviving spouse) will be given to those people.

Then the survivor's share of the community property will continue to be held in trust for the survivor's benefit.

The survivor's share of the deceased spouse's estate will either be paid to the survivor outright, or into the survivor's trust.

After the surviving spouse passes away, specific gifts of tangible items from that spouse to named people will be made.

Then, the trust property will be divided among the remaining heirs. If the remaining heirs are children, the trustee may continue to manage the money for the children and other descendants.

If the remaining heirs are friends or relatives other than children, the trust property will be divided among them and paid outright. Then the trust will terminate.

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