Should you and your spouse have separate wills?

Most Bay Area couples understand the importance of estate planning. Creating an estate plan is important for making sure a person’s assets are protected and that their assets pass as desired. A couple who has been married a long time may think that their will should include both of them. Although it is possible to have a joint will there are many advantages of having individual wills.

If a couple has a joint will and one spouse passes away the will cannot be changed easily. The surviving spouse may not be able to:

  • Sell property that is listed in the will.
  • Limit or change beneficiaries in the will.
  • Use money from the estate to purchase a new home, education expenses, or start a business.
  • Change an executor or beneficiary.
  • Leave any part of the estate listed in the will to a new spouse.

Having a separate will allows a person to have their own will if their spouse passes away. Also, many families in California are blended families and designating exactly what assets the children should receive is important. A person may not agree with their spouse about how assets should be distributed upon their death. Having their own will can alleviate these concerns. Also, changing a joint would require both spouses to agree but an individual will does not have these requirements.

A legal professional who is skilled in estate planning can explain the pros and cons of having an individual will. They can assist their client with drafting a will or updating an existing estate plan. Having these documents in place is important in ensuring a person’s wishes are followed after their death.