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Is it a good idea for spouses to have the same wills?

In long-term marriages where both spouses have the same assets, they tend to be invested in passing these assets on to the same family members. So, it may seem logical for their wills to look exactly the same.

Logical, perhaps, but is it a good idea?

Each person should have a will of his or her choosing

It may not be a good idea if your spouse says, "We should have the same things in our wills." For one thing, you do not want to feel pressured by your spouse to follow everything he or she has in the will.  Moreover, wills should be personal. Even though the two of you have been married a long time, you may have separate property or property that is deeply sentimental to only one of you. For example, say that you (not you and your spouse) inherited a fine piece of jewelry when your parents died. You plan to leave it to your sister when you die, but your spouse wants it going to your child. You are afraid that if you die first, your sister will not get the jewelry. Your sole property, your choice.

Also, if your spouse dies first, you may feel pressured to keep your will exactly the way your spouse wanted it even if circumstances change drastically. You also want to be sure that you are clearheaded about all of the assets and money your estate comprises, which might not happen if you "copy" your spouse's will.

You can start a conversation

However, it is probably fine if your spouse wants to start a conversation about having wills and what assets should go to whom. Many, if not most, long-term couples generally agree on who to leave major and minor assets to. Do keep in mind that the earlier you start planning, the better, and that your estate planning may need to go beyond wills.

Nursing home care can eat up a lot of a planned inheritance, and you might not qualify for Medicaid if you have made large gifts or property transfers in the five years prior to your application.

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