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What is a Joint will?

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  • Written By: O. Wallace
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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A joint will is a will that two people make together, each leaving all their property and assets to the other. When one of the two passes away, the joint will ensures that their property and assets pass on to the other. The will also stipulates what will happen with those assets when the second person dies.

A joint will prevents the second person from changing his or her mind about how or to whom the assets will pass upon his or her death. This ensures that the wishes of the first person in the joint will will be honored. A parent who remarries can be virtually guaranteed that their children will receive their inheritance if they pass away before the step parent. One drawback of the joint will is that the assets are tied up until the second person dies. If the second person experiences a change in situation or heart as to where they want the money to go, they must go through serious legal red tape to make any changes.

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When making a joint will, the two people involved must consider many things. First, they must decide on what property or assets to include in the will. The couple must agree on who will inherit the remaining assets after both of their deaths. An executor must be selected to handle the execution of the joint will. If there are minor children involved, a guardian must be chosen, as well as a person to manage the children's assets. The joint will must be witnessed, and then stored in a safe, accessible place.

To make a will legal, the parties involved must state that the document is their will, it must be signed and dated, then witnessed and signed by at least two people, depending on individual state law. Notarizing, though not necessary, is preferable for proving a will's validity in court. Although there are many resources available for researching and writing your own will, it is always wise to consult a lawyer when deciding on the type of will that is best for your situation.

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joeann
Post 3

What is a Mutual Will?

joeann
Post 2

Also, is it legal to make a joint will when two people are unmarried at the time?

joeann
Post 1

If two people make a joint will, although they have separate assets from previous marriages, if one of those people want to allow their child to review their part of the will, can that be done without the child viewing the other party's part of the will and their separate assets and wishes?

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