Does a married couple need separate Wills?

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Does a married couple need separate Wills?

Or can there just be one document signed bt both?

Asked on June 24, 2011 under Estate Planning, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The bad news, they need separate wills. A will can only be for a single person; it is a person's will. A married couple, despite their legal ties in many areas, is still not a single person--it is two people. Therefore, each needs his or her own will.

The good news is, there's no reason why the wills have to be different, other than changing names and pronouns (e.g. "his" to "her"). A lawyer should be able to prepare both wills for little more than the cost of preparing one will, as long the provisions are the same. So you should be able to do this on an affordable, cost effective basis. You should, by the way, go to a lawyer for your will; wills are very technical, and small errors can render them ineffective. Since there's no chance to redo a will once you've passed away, you want to make sure you get it right.


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