You have been married to your spouse for decades but have just got around to doing some much-needed estate planning. Since the two of you are close in every aspect of your marital life, you might like the concept of drafting a joint will for the both of you.
Many estate planners will advise against creating a joint will, however. As it turns out, there are multiple reasons why doing so might be a very bad idea.
It can bind the surviving spouse to an outdated estate plan
If you are struck by tragedy and suddenly pass away, your surviving spouse could live on for decades after you are gone. With a joint will, your spouse is tethered to the mandates of the joint will despite potential life changes, such as:
- The birth of additional children
- The need to liquidate assets for living expenses or long-term care costs
The joint plan may not have any contingencies
Imagine this: You leave everything to one another — and then die in the same incident.
As unfortunate as it is, it is not all that uncommon for married couples to die together. An auto accident or other unexpected event could be fatal to you both. If either of you has children from another union, this could create unnecessary complications and even the need for probate litigation for your heirs.
Don’t make things harder than it has to be
Joint wills are often the wrong choice for many couples. They can be challenged and defeated in court, but that is only after the litigants — your heirs and beneficiaries — have forked over a great deal of cash to attorneys and the probate courts.
You, your spouse and your estate planning attorney can discuss your goals and options. Once you do, you can arrive at the best estate-planning solutions for you, your spouse and your heirs.