The Pros and Cons of a Joint Will for Married Couples

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Wills Lawyer St. Peters, MO

After a couple gets married, they may talk about the option of drafting a joint will. A joint will is a single document that is signed by both spouses, in which all of their assets shall be left to the other after one passes away. While this may seem like a good idea, an attorney suggests being aware of the potential pros and cons. In general, joint wills typically include statements regarding one spouse inheriting everything after the other passes, and when the second spouse becomes deceased, it gets transferred to the children. While this sounds simple, it can create inconvenient roadblocks down the line.

Con: Joint Wills Cannot Be Revoked

Most joint wills include a provision which states that neither husband or wife can make changes to or revoke the will independently. So essentially, the joint will cannot be updated after the first spouse passes away. By contrast, a conventional will can be changed as years go by. Married couples who are thinking about creating a joint will may want to consider what writing individual wills can do for them instead.

Pro: Children are Locked into Inheritance

A joint will can ensure that both the couple’s desires and preferences are being followed permanently. Many couples feel more reassured knowing that if their spouse were to pass away, they still have a place to live as they shall inherit all the property. Additionally, a joint will solidifies that the children will inherit everything once both parents pass on.

Another potential benefit to a joint will is if one parent passes away and the other remarries, the original children are guaranteed to receive the inheritance and not the new stepparent or kids. An attorney can help you draft a will that ensures your children get the assets you want them to have in the future.a

Con: The Surviving Spouse is Stuck

Life can be unpredictable. Sometimes really terrible things or incredibly amazing events happen, and there may not be ways to prepare for all scenarios. After the first spouse passes, the surviving spouse can be stuck in the sense that he or she cannot make adjustments to the will even under very special circumstances. The surviving spouse may not be permitted to:

  • Help grandchildren by assisting in paying for college expenses
  • Sell or gift away other assets besides money that are listed in the will
  • Add restrictions on the money to be inherited by an adult child who is not financially responsible
  • Gift an adult child a portion of his or her inheritance early for a major life event (buying a house, having a baby, paying off loans, or starting a business)
  • Sell off the family home and move into a smaller space (or assisted living)

As you can see, there are benefits and complications of married couples establishing a joint will together. If you want to know what type of will can be in everyone’s best interest, please consult with a wills lawyer in St. Peters, MO from the Legacy Law Center today.