Cynthia Crofoot Rignanese, Esquire
Thinking Globally, Practicing Locally in Central Florida Since 1990

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The Pros And Cons Of A Joint Will

Depending on their needs and assets, couples have a number of estate planning options open to them. Wills, trusts and health care directives are all possible options, and an estate planning attorney can work with a couple to set up a robust estate plan. This blog post will discuss one possible option: a joint will.

What is a joint will? A joint will is a will that is jointly executed by two parties. These two parties are usually two members of a married couple. The two parties' last will and testament are combined, and the surviving party inherits from the first party to die. A joint will is distinct from the more common joint and mutual wills, which make property divisions dependent on the other will through reciprocal provisions.

One interesting feature of joint wills is that they cannot be revoked or changed by one party acting unilaterally. Both parties must agree to revoke a joint will once it has been made. When one of the parties dies, the other is not able to revoke or change the will. This is true even if the surviving spouse remarries.

Joint wills have the advantage of arguably being easier to write. But many couples find that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. One major problem often is the inability to change a joint will after the first spouse's death. Circumstances often change a few years or so after the first spouse's death, and surviving spouses often do not want to be bound by the terms of a joint will after the circumstances have changed.

Rignanese & Associates is available to work with clients on their legal needs. Please reach out to us at 863.294.1114.

1. On behalf of Kelly Kennedy of J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC which has been acquired by Rignanese & Associates, PLLC.

Cynthia Rignanese