Did you know that the wedding ring traditionally symbolised the exchange of valuables during a ceremony? Nowadays the wedding ring is more commonly known as a symbol of eternal love and devotion. And most vows to this day do contain at least one line about handing over your worldly goods to that other person, in what is seen as an exchange and pooling of resources.
While some couples will have a “what’s mine is yours” attitude, when it comes to writing a will, there are multiple reasons why spouses (and all partners!) should have separate wills. There also may be an expectation that married couples should have a joint will, stating that when one dies their estate goes to the other and then their children when the remaining spouse dies. But families are rarely as straightforward as that and there are many reasons to consider setting your wishes out on separate wills. At Bequest, we offer 3 will options, from free to premium wills (definitely worth your £!), so there’s no reason to restrict your wishes to just one between the two of you.
Joint wills are quite rare in the UK, and take into account shared responsibilities like property, joint bank accounts and children or pets. However, people often have different wishes or requirements and a one-size fits all approach may not be the best to satisfy your requirements as a married couple and as individuals. Spouses also rarely die at the same time and having two separate wills means that the remaining spouse would be able to update their own will with no legal contest.
A joint will is regarded as a contract which is agreed between two spouses, so if one dies, then it’s very difficult to change it. It would be almost impossible to sell property or other assets that are listed in the joint will and change executors or beneficiaries. You wouldn’t be able to use money from the estate to purchase a new home or to pay for your child’s university education unless it had been specified in the joint will.
If the remaining spouse remarried and went on to have more children, it would be hard to update their will to reflect these changes. Keeping your wills separate avoids any unnecessary legal costs and means you are in control of your own estate. You can also set out more personal wishes like leaving a piece of jewellery to a close friend or donating a sum of cash to your favourite cat charity. 😺
Blended families are just one circumstance where having two separate wills may be more appropriate for you. If you have step-children or an estranged spouse, setting out your preferences as an individual takes away any ambiguity over what your true wishes are. You can literally spell it out in black and white and leave no one guessing over what you want to happen to your estate in the event of your death.
If you’re married for a second time, you may want to have a separate will to ensure that part of your estate goes to children from your previous relationship. There are many different family circumstances to consider when writing a will, and we believe that having your own will just makes better sense.
Although you make a lot of decisions together as a married couple, ultimately the only person who can decide on what you want to happen after you die, is you. It’s your decision how you want to provide for your loved ones (executors, guardians etc.) and divide your estate after you pass away. Having separate wills gives you the control to make these decisions for yourself, no matter what the circumstances are and how they change over time.
At Bequest, you can write a will online in under 15 minutes. There’s absolutely no excuse not to set out your wishes and ensure that your estate and loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone. It’s important to update your will as you go through big life changes as well, such as getting married or becoming a parent. It’s similarly important to make sure your will is updated to reflect your wishes after a divorce or the death of a beneficiary, guardian or executor. With our online will writing service, you can make changes at any time. You may wish to read our article for more details on how to write your will.