Married couples often want to do pretty much everything with each other. That often includes the way in which they do estate planning, which can include the writing of joint wills primarily so that everything will be left to the surviving spouse. In Illinois, a joint will can’t be changed or revoked by just one spouse; both have to agree to any changes.
Joint wills were primarily used years ago before the advances in technology. It was easier to fashion one will, rather than two separate ones with all the paperwork that would have been involved. However, the fact the will cannot be altered without the approval of each spouse is the primary disadvantage of having a joint will today. That means that even if one partner dies, the will can’t be changed by the surviving spouse.
Essentially, the surviving spouse’s hands are tied should he or she wish to leave assets to stepchildren in the event of a remarriage or if he or she would like to disinherit someone. So, in many respects a joint will is not the ideal situation. There are better alternatives today.
An Illinois attorney can guide clients regarding what wills may work for their particular situations. For instance, a couple may wish to consider setting up trusts rather than having a joint will. A lawyer who knows the state laws governing estate planning may be able to steer his or her clients in the right direction or at least provide information on all possibilities when it comes to writing a will.