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Trusts and Estate Planning

I write a free will for anyone who buys a trust from us and one for their spouse as well, but I never write a joint will for both of them. Why?

Jane and Trevor had a joint will leaving everything to each other when the first died and then the entire estate to their two children in equal portions when the second died. After Jane died, one of their children had a serious road accident and was restricted to a wheelchair. The other was making a stash as a businesswoman.

Trevor died and the estate was split equally between the children (now adults). The share was equal but the needs were very unequal. Trevor had been unable to change the will because the survivor was bound by the joint will after the death of the first. This disaster would have been completely avoided if they had prepared separate wills. For this reason, joint wills are rarely prepared these days.

Even without that problem, I still take the view that spouses are individuals and it is surely appropriate to respect that individuality. Each should be free to change their will as they see fit from time to time.

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