Why have joint wills gone out of style?

On Behalf of | May 28, 2018 | Firm News |

In the past, many married couples utilized joint wills. These are similar to regular wills except a single document accounts for two people instead of one. 

The reason they were extremely popular years ago is the fact that they would save couples time and money. However, a litany of reasons has risen up that make them a less than ideal choice. After marrying or having a child, it is a good idea for both spouses to update their separate wills rather than rely on a joint will. 

Unable to alter anything after one spouse’s death

The purpose of having a will is to have a division of assets laid out in the event a person dies. When a married couple has a joint will, both of them need to sign. In the event one spouse passes away, the remaining spouse will be unable to make any alterations because he or she cannot obtain the signature of the deceased party. This results in issues if the surviving spouse undergoes significant life changes. 

For example, the spouse may remarry and want to leave assets to this new spouse. Additionally, the spouse may have a child with this new partner and be unable to alter the terms of the initial joint will. This means the living spouse remains locked into this agreement for decades. 

Another problem arises when the spouse wants to sell or give up assets covered by the joint will. The person may be unable to sell the family house and move into a nursing facility later in life.

Not legal in Florida

Florida law states married couples cannot create a joint will in the first place. However, if a couple created a joint will in another state and moved to Florida, then they will want to update it. Anyone who moves to a new state with a will already in place should examine whether there is anything about the document that does not transfer to the new location.