Is Making a Joint Will a Good Idea?
People may hope to consider writing a joint will, also known as a mutual will, if they have been together for a long time and share the same ideas on what they would like to do with their property.
But, how exactly does a joint will work and is it better or worse than creating individual wills?
What is a Joint Will?
A joint will is a single will that applies to two or more people, usually husband and wife. The will normally states that when one person dies, all the property will go to the other spouse. When the remaining spouse dies, the property will then be distributed according to what both parties to the will agreed.
For this to be valid, both parties must have expressly agreed that the will could not be taken back or changed at a later date.
What are the Advantages?
The provisions in the will aren't able to be changed without consent from both parties. Some people hope to take advantage of this fact as it means that when one person dies, the remaining person can't change their mind as to how they would like to leave the property.
For example, if the remaining party to the will forms a new relationship and now hopes to leave all the property to their new stepchild, they won't be able to do this.
What are the Disadvantages?
The inability to change the provisions may be seen by some as a benefit, but it can also be a major disadvantage.
From the time that the will was written, it is likely that individual circumstances change. Surviving partners may well move on and form new relationships, and may even have more children in the future.
Our Head of Court of Protection, Wills, Probate and Trusts, advises:"Joint wills can work in some circumstances, but the potential pitfalls certainly outweigh any benefits. It is impossible to predict our future intentions, and after the death of one party to the joint will, it becomes incredibly difficult to change the will."
If you are looking at writing a will
, it is important to get professional advice. We at Simpson Millar LLP have specialist solicitors that can help you with this, and make sure that your will is done properly.