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Why a joint will isn't always the best idea

Many people who are married assume that they will create a single will between them. This isn't always the best course of action, and working with your estate planning lawyer can help you understand what steps are the best given your situation in Omaha.

One reason you might not want a joint will is that it's relatively unlikely that you will both pass away at the same time. A joint will can complicate matters when one spouse survives, and courts in some states won't even recognize these wills as valid legal documents. In such a case, the surviving spouse would eventually have to create his or her own will anyway.

Another reason not to create a joint will is that not all assets are jointly held. One spouse might own a business that the other spouse has no ownership interest in, for example. You might have come to the marriage with separate property, and that property doesn't necessarily need to be lumped in on the same will.

Modern families are often complex, and they can involve late-life marriages. In such cases, one or more individuals might have children from previous marriages. It's not always desired that all children from all previous marriages be made heirs to both people's estate. This can be especially true when people marry late and have adult children already; in these cases, separate wills are actually necessary. You might even want to provide for a former spouse. Since probate laws tend to favor the current spouse, things need to be fairly well-communicated in your will.

It's okay if you end up with two separate documents that say much the same thing. It's not about being different in your wishes, but about protecting each other individually.

Source: AARP, "10 Things You Should Know About Writing a Will," Brett Widness, accessed Sep. 30, 2016

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