Fact or Fiction: I should have a Joint Will with my Spouse

What is a joint will? A joint will is a last will and testament for two people. Generally, this is a married couple and they are providing that all assets go to the living spouse upon the first spouse’s death. Upon the second to die, the assets go to the children (or other individuals that they have agreed upon).

 You may want to share everything with your spouse.  But should you share a will?

You may want to share everything with your spouse. But should you share a will?

The main problem with joint wills is that they only revocable by both people. Therefore, in order to change the document, both parties must be alive, have capacity, and consent to the change. This becomes problematic when circumstances change or one spouse dies. The surviving spouse will not have the ability to change the terms of the will – including changing distributions to their children, putting restrictions on use of estate funds, and providing for special-needs family members.

A much better course of action is to have individual or separate wills. Married couples can have nearly identical provisions in their documents. But they will have the additional ability to change the will as life changes.

Verdict: Fiction.

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