As a married couple, the idea of a joint will might seem like a good idea, but it can potentially create more legal problems than a single will would. Although a joint will can save you and your spouse time when it comes to estate planning, it is important to carefully consider all of the possible legal ramifications involved in your decision. Before you and your spouse sign off on the will, here are some things to know.
What Is a Joint Will?
A joint will is simply a document which allows for all of the marital assets to transfer to the surviving spouse upon the death of one spouse. After the surviving spouse dies, the assets then pass to another person, charity, or other entity. In most instances, couples list their children as their heirs.
What Are the Benefits of a Joint Will?
The most obvious benefit of a joint will is how simplistic it is. By ensuring that everything passes to the surviving spouse, the conflict about where each asset should go is avoided. The joint will also ensures that no matter what transpires, the last heirs receive their inheritance. If you have children or plan to give all of your assets to charity, you can be guaranteed that they will receive your assets.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Joint Will?
Unfortunately, as easy as a joint will sounds, it can be a bit more complicated in some situations. One of the main problems is that the joint will is usually is irrevocable. In other words, if the surviving spouse wants to make any changes, he or she could face a legal battle to do so because of the terms of the will.
Unexpected situations, such as the need to sell some of the property to raise funds for a medical procedure, could occur. Because the will basically lays out a plan for that property to be left to the children or other entity, the spouse cannot sell it.
Another possible problem is the inclusion or exclusion of step-children. For instance, if you were previously married and had children, and then re-married and had children, there could be some disagreement about whether or not your children from the first marriage should be included in the will. As a result, the will could be contested by one or both sets of children after your spouse dies.
There are ways that you and your spouse can handle the division of your assets in a neat and clean manner without leaving more questions than answers. Work with an estate attorney to figure out the best possible way to accomplish you and your spouse's plans. Contact a company like Wilson Deege Despotovich Riemenschneider & Rittgers for more information.Share