Each of us has property worthy of distribution to someone-an automobile, bank account, stereo, home computer, furniture, jewelry, paintings, china, etc. Even if everything were sold at an estate auction, it would probably yield several thousand dollars which could be useful to your favorite charity.
This is a trap into which many people fall. Having property in joint name is no excuse for not having a will. In the event of a common disaster, you will have no distribution plan. Or, the other joint tenant could predecease you. Having everything in joint name is also a bad estate plan because the first spouse to die loses the benefit of his or her lifetime estate tax exemption.
This is an invalid premise. If you die without a will, your children may share in a major part of the estate. Your spouse may predecease you, or you may get a divorce. Both of you may die in a common disaster with the result that everything will be left up to chance. (For example) Did you know that if you die without a will in Massachusetts, your children share in the estate? Do you want your 21 year old college student to receive a percentage of your estate rather than having it all go to your spouse?
A review of the obituaries will show that death is not a state reserved only for the elderly. Many people in their forties and fifties and younger die from all kinds of unexpected accidents and diseases. (The number of court appointed guardians after 9/11/01 should be a reminder that we’re surrounded by uncertainty.)
Each of you still needs a pour-over will that simply provides for anything standing in your name alone upon your death to be distributed to your trust. Then, the trust takes over the distribution plan. It is very unlikely not to own something outside the revocable trust at death. Moreover, some people set up living trusts but neglect to fund them.