When a husband and wife are looking to create a Last Will and Testament document for the first time ever, there is usually one common question that comes to mind immediately: should we make one Will that covers both of us, or two individual Wills?
The vast majority of married couples want to leave their joint marital property first to the surviving spouse and then to their children (if there are any, and if the spouse is no longer living).
For this type of personal situation, Standard Legal suggests separate individual Will documents be created for each spouse.
While some attorneys and Will authors like to create a single Will document for both husband and wife (often referred to as a "Combined Will" or "Reciprocal Will"), Standard Legal finds that the individual Last Will & Testament structure offers a better legal option for 'real life' reasons.
With a Combined Will, when one spouse dies, the original Will must be submitted to the probate court. When that happens, the information contained in the Will is often made available to the public for inspection and review, which can create privacy issues for the entire family.
Further, the fact that the original Will is submitted to the probate court can create new issues should the other spouse die while the first estate is still being probated. Obtaining a copy of the original Combined Will for filing with the probate court for the "second to die" spouse could create difficulties, especially if the "second to die" spouse has moved his or her home to a jurisdiction different from the location where the first spouse's Will is being probated.
Given these scenarios, utilizing separate, individual Wills for each spouse is preferred.
The Will for each spouse can be written to mirror each other, so that the first spouse to die leaves his or her property to the surviving spouse and then to their children, if any.
These separate and individual Wills accomplish the same goal as the Combined Will while eliminating a variety of probate issues. It is for these reasons that Standard Legal provides individual Wills for all family members through its software and document preparation packages.
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