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Can a Husband and Wife Have Separate Wills?

It is a customary estate planning practice for each spouse to have his or her own will.  While some practitioners may draft a joint will for a married couple, it is not recommended.  Here are a few reasons why.

  1. When you create a joint will with your spouse, and one spouse passes away, the joint will becomes irrevocable: an irrevocable document that cannot be changed by the surviving spouse. That means that the surviving spouse may not be able to do things like:
  • Sell property/assets listed in the will
  • Limit or change the inheritance for beneficiaries who are estranged, irresponsible or have made poor life choices
  • Use money from the estate to pay for a new home, business venture or education expenses
  • Change a beneficiary or executor
  • Leave any part of your estate in the joint will to a new spouse
  1. If your spouse passes away, you will ultimately have to create your own will anyway.
  2. In blended family situations, having separate wills allows you to designate exactly what assets to leave your own children.
  3. You may not be in 100% agreement with your spouse on how your estate should be divided/distributed after you pass away.
  4. If one spouse wants to change anything in a joint will, the other spouse must be in agreement with the change and provide their consent.

Ultimately, it is your decision on how you want to protect your estate and provide for your loved ones after you pass. The Denver estate planning attorneys at The Brown Law Firm, LLC regularly help married couples create separate wills.. We will be happy to share our past experiences with other client situations to help you make the best choice. For example, we may recommend drafting a reciprocal will that mirrors your spouse’s will but is still its own document. To learn more, please contact us at (303) 339-3750.