Sometimes, married couples have the expectation to do everything together and share everything together. This idea may pop up as you and your spouse create your estate plans. You may wonder if you only need to have one will or if your separate wills should be identical.
The answer is no, you do not have to share a will. Not only can you have two separate and different wills and other estate plans, but it is also better to take this approach for the following reasons.
Protect individual wishes
As similar as you two may be, you and your spouse probably do not agree 100 percent on everything. Having your own will and other documents, such as a medical power of attorney, ensures the following of your unique wishes upon your death. It also stops your spouse from being able to change your will without your permission.
Distribute separate property
Not all of your property is marital; some you may have acquired before the marriage or inherited in your lifetime. Your will can outline where you want your personal assets to go to avoid family disputes. This is especially helpful if you have ex-spouses, children from previous relationships or a blended family.
Speed probate process
Single wills are easier to update, validate and enforce, making the probate process much faster and saving your beneficiaries money.
Can some things be the same?
Of course, you can include identical clauses in each of your wills, such as what will happen if you both die at the same time or who will get joint assets. However, what about the things that you disagree on? What if you each put different things in your wills that end up conflicting with one another? Using professional legal services is the best way to prevent this scenario so that you both can have what is most important to you without creating confusion or contention in the family.