What Is a Joint Will & How to Create One?

A joint will is a document that allows two or more people to make decisions about their property and estate after they die. This can be helpful when there are disagreements among family members about what should happen to someone’s property after they die. A joint will can also help to avoid probate, which is the legal process of distributing someone’s property after they die. A joint will is like any other will in that it must go through the probate process. The probate process is the legal process of distributing someone’s property after they die. The probate court holds the property of the decedent’s estate, determines its value, pays any outstanding debts owed by the estate, and distributes whatever remains to the will’s beneficiaries.

Why Should I Use a Joint Will?

There are several reasons why you might want to use a joint will. First, if you have disagreements among family members about what should happen to your property after you die, a joint will can help to resolve those disputes. Second, if you want to avoid probate, a joint will can help to accomplish that goal. Finally, if you and your spouse want to make decisions about how your property will be distributed after both of you die, a joint will can help you do that.

How to Create One

To create a joint will, you must state in the document that it is a joint will. You don’t need both people’s signatures to make the will valid, but you must include the signature of each person who is making the will. You must also have the will notarized. You’ll want to include which assets are going to be included in your will, as well as how they will be distributed. If your state requires having a will notarized and witnessed, you’ll follow its will-making instructions to ensure that it’s legal. It’s critical to verify your state’s will rules before proceeding with the joint-will-making procedure since not every state allows them.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Using a Joint Will

There are both benefits and drawbacks to using a joint will. The benefits of using one are that it can resolve disputes among family members and help you make decisions about how your property will be distributed after both of you die. One drawback of using a joint will is that if both people who made the joint will pass away, the document won’t be able to be used to distribute their property without going through the probate process. Another downside is that if one person in the joint will decides they no longer want to be a part of it, they can unilaterally revoke the document. This could create problems among family members who may not have agreed on what should happen to the property in the first place. It’s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of using a joint will before deciding if it’s the right choice for you. If you do decide to use one, be sure to follow the required steps in your state to make sure it’s valid.

The Bottom Line

When creating a joint will, it is important to remember that this document will supersede any other wills made by either party. This means that if one person dies and they have a will that says something different than what is in the joint will, the provisions of the joint will will be enforced. It is also important to remember that both parties must sign the document for it to be valid. If you have any questions about joint wills or would like help creating one, please consult with an estate planning attorney in your area. If you are considering using a joint will, be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision. Remember that if both people who made the joint will die, the document won’t be able to be used to distribute their property without going through the probate process. Additionally, if one person in the joint will decides they no longer want to be part of it, they can unilaterally revoke the document.

A joint will can help to resolve disputes among family members about what should happen to your property after you die, avoid probate, and make decisions about how your property will be distributed after both of you die.
To create a joint will, you must state in the document that it is a joint will. You must also have the document notarized.
Typically, it doesn't cost anything to create a joint will; however, it is always best to check with an estate-planning attorney in your area to make sure that this is true where you live and to determine exactly what is included in the fee.
There are many benefits of using a joint will, including that it can resolve disputes among family members and avoid probate.
No, just as long as both parties state in the document that it is a joint will, it will be valid.

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.