Structuring Joint Trusts in Separate Property States to Avoid Income and Gift Tax Pitfalls

Identifying "Problem" Assets, Coordinating JRTs With Credit Shelter Trusts, Drafting GPOAs, and More

Recording of a 90-minute CLE/CPE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE/CPE webinar will provide estate planners and advisers with a thorough and practical guide for utilizing joint trusts in separate property/common law states. The panel will outline the situations in which to use joint marital trusts and where to steer clear. The webinar will identify specific tax traps to avoid and will offer specific drafting language to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of using joint marital trusts in common law states.


The question of whether to utilize a joint marital trust in a state that does not default to community property law is one that can present both risk and reward. For couples in certain situations, separate trusts are generally more advisable; however, for many couples, setting up a joint trust is their preferred vehicle for wealth planning. There are specific tax pitfalls estate planning counsel must avoid when structuring joint trusts in separate property states.

Navigating the gift tax consequences is critical when setting up a joint trust in a separate property state. In circumstances where the spouses contribute unequal amounts, the funding of the trust could trigger a gift tax consequence if the trust instrument does not properly assign the power to revoke or withdraw assets.

There are also income tax risks in structuring a joint trust in a separate property state. Most of these issues can be avoided through careful drafting of the trust document, but estate planners must be prepared to identify and manage these hidden tax risks.

Listen as our experienced panel provides thorough and practical guidance to structuring a joint trust to operate in a separate property/non-community property state.



  1. Tax and non-tax considerations for utilizing a JRT in a separate property state
  2. Gift and estate tax issues to avoid in funding and administering a JRT in a separate property state
  3. Income tax issues and potential advantages of JRTs
  4. Drafting recommendations and resources


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What are the gift tax risks to utilizing a joint revocable trust in a separate property state?
  • What “problem” assets require special attention when used to fund a joint revocable trust?
  • Coordinating joint revocable trusts with credit shelter trusts
  • Drafting general power of appointment in JRTs in non-community property states


DeJong, Lauren
Lauren Evans DeJong

Of Counsel
Stahl Cowen Crowley Addis

Ms. DeJong counsels individuals with regard to estate planning, estate and trust administration, asset protection...  |  Read More

Tippett , Scott
Scott K. Tippett

The Tippett Law Firm

Mr. Tippett's practice focuses on wealth law, as a comprehensive and integrated approach to domestic and...  |  Read More

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