Should Spouses Make Separate Wills?
You and your spouse may think the best way to avoid estate litigation upon passing is to create one will for the both of you. That way, each party’s wishes are accounted for. Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually work that way–spouses need to make separate wills specifically to avoid estate litigation in the future. Klein Lawyers explains.
Why Spouses Need Separate Wills – Joint Wills
A joint will is a single will designed to plan for the distribution of assets of more than one person – in this case, two spouses. When signed by both spouses, each person agrees to abide by the distribution agreement that happens at the time of death.
The problem is that the parties can revoke or modify the will during their lifetime. While the joint will often includes a constructive trust which must be distributed within the guidelines of the joint will, the other spouse can still alter the will.
In essence, in order for a joint will to be valid and mutual, there must be an agreement to not revoke the will and commit a breach of the agreement. In most cases, couples will include the agreement within a separate agreement.
This quickly can become complicated. That is why it is best to create separate wills that are in agreement on the distribution terms, but leave room for modifications. Other reasons for separate wills include:
- Wills Variation Will Become Difficult: The children of the deceased, though often not entitled to assets until both parents have passed, will not be able to contest the will in many cases. While estate litigation is possible in joint wills, it involves a lot of complex legal work to ensure the rights of all parties involved.
- Privacy: The terms of a will become public, meaning that the surviving spouse will likely have their personal affairs in the open, leaving room for privacy issues.
- Needs Change: What may have seemed like a good idea when the joint will was first created may change once a partner has died. While the will may be able to be altered, it can become a headache to do so.
Though you and your spouse had good intentions when drafting one will, it is often best to meet with a lawyer to determine what will be the best course of action for you and your living children. However, if you have created a joint will and your partner has since passed, you may need to undergo wills variation. Klein Lawyers can help.
Contact a Wills Variation Lawyer Today
If you and your spouse created a joint will, you may wonder if changes can be made after his or her passing. Klein Lawyers can help. Klein Lawyers serves clients throughout British Columbia in wills variation cases, and we can help you dispute a will to get the maintenance and support you deserve.
Please call (604) 874-7171 today for a free consultation. Our wills variation lawyers serve spouses in Vancouver, Abbottsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, Surrey, and other areas of British Columbia.