Making A Will As A Couple: Should We Have A Joint Will?
You and a partner are committed to sharing life together and to dividing your resources equally, even after death. It can seem appealing to have an arrangement where your property and resources are promised to your partner after you die, but a joint will is probably not the best way to accomplish this. It’s a good idea to know a little more about joint wills and writing wills as a couple, and our Vancouver notary is happy to help at Morris Notary.
Joint Will 101
It is common for two partners to feel that their estate is jointly owned and to only need one will. In simple terms, a joint will is a single will that is signed by two people. It attempts to cover the needs of two partners in one document.
Typically the feeling is that:
- When one spouse dies, the other will inherit everything
- When the second spouse dies, everything will go to the children
Joint wills can offer some reassurance that a surviving spouse will be able to retain property and assets accumulated during the marriage. A joint will agreement can also ensure that your children inherit your estate according to your wishes.
A joint will is binding and prevents the surviving spouse from updating the elements that were agreed upon in the will.
Downsides of joint wills
There are some things you may not have considered about joint wills. For instance, how about changed life circumstances? If one of the couple dies, the surviving spouse may not be able to:
- Help grandchildren with college expenses
- Give an adult child an early inheritance to buy a house or start a business
- Sell the family home and downsize
Or, imagine that a couple made a plan where the home they bought together would go to their son. One of the couple passes away but the surviving spouse has a serious falling-out with the son. If they want to disinherit him, the joint will means that it’s not an option.
A better way forward
In truth, joint wills were developed in response to a time when family property was considered to be owned by a family patriarch. Today, as a leading notary office in Vancouver, we understand that both partners have equal rights to all property including shared property. Each partner is best set up with their own will. The wills can “mirror” one another but contain alternate instructions and back up plans to address changing life circumstances.
When you work with Morris Notary to prepare your will as a couple, we can help you make choices that best reflect your shared interests. Let us take care of your will by booking your appointment today.