As a gesture of their intention to stay together until death forces them apart, a married couple will often write a joint will that addresses what should happen to their property when they die. This can also seem like the easier solution, as there would presumably be less in the way of paperwork and the inheritances are easier to figure.
But there are many reasons why a combined will is actually a bad idea for you and your family. Most estate planning lawyers will recommend that you create separate wills for you and your spouse.
Here are 5 reasons why.
Different Times of Death
Neither the thought of leaving your loved one behind after death nor the concept of them passing away before you is something we ever want to consider. But very few married partners leave this world at the same time. When one dies before the other, the joint will often become needlessly complicated and difficult to execute.
Many married couples today have children or assets from a previous marriage that either ended in divorce or death. Having separate wills ensures that we can leave behind what we wish to our biological children.
When an individual passes away, their will often goes through the probate process, which is public. If it’s a joint will, the surviving spouse may have some privacy concerns if certain things are made public before their time. Having separate wills limits how much of your private information is made public in the event of your spouse’s death.
Joint Wills Lock In Upon the Death of One Spouse
If your spouse dies before you, a joint will becomes “locked in.” The legal document represented their wishes during life and cannot be rewritten after their death. Though a lawyer may be able to help the surviving spouse update the will, it is not an easy process, and one that’s easily avoided by keeping separate wills.
Don’t Have to Wait Until Divorce to Update Will
We may enter into marriage and vow “until death do us part,” but divorces do happen. In California, if you had separate wills then both parties could make changes to their wills while the divorce is being filed. If, however, you have a joint will, then it may not be updated until the divorce is finalized.
Can The Bains Law Offices Assist Me?
You’ve just read five good reasons why you and your spouse should consider writing your own separate wills. If you want to know how best to plan for your future and the future of your children, consulting an experienced attorney is advisable.
The Bains Law Offices pride itself on providing exemplary legal services to the people of Fresno, California, and would like to help you with the creation of your will.