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Should I consider a joint will?

Joint wills are still possible to create, but they are mostly an artifact of an earlier era of estate planning, before more effective asset protection tools rose to prominence. For most couples or individuals considering a joint will, it is wiser to consider other options that grant similar benefits with fewer archaic restrictions.

When joint wills were used more commonly, married couples often created them to make it simpler and more streamlined to transfer property between spouses when one passed away. Now, estate planning professionals often accomplish this goal using trusts, which may make it easier to protect and transfer assets to beneficiaries, depending on the nature of the assets and other factors.

The downsides to joint wills are substantial. Once two parties create a joint will, both parties must agree to any future alterations to it. This can create a host of issues, especially if one party passes away or remarries. Without the consent of both parties, one spouse may find his or herself bound by a will he or she cannot legally alter. You certainly don't want to create a legally binding document that you cannot alter if at all avoidable. This is simply an unnecessary risk when you account for the many excellent estate planning tools we now use that were unavailable to previous generations .

If you're considering a joint will, there are almost certainly more effective, less restrictive options available. An experienced estate planning attorney who understands all the modern options available to you to address your estate planning needs. Professional guidance helps ensure that you understand your needs and the tools you use as you build a legacy to leave behind.

Source: FindLaw, "Joint Wills," accessed Jan. 04, 2018

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