Joint Will Attorney

Watching your parents, your partner, and even yourself age can bring up lots of questions about estate planning and how to coordinate your plan with your loved ones’ plans. Many Floridians explore the concept of joint wills, envisioning a streamlined process for managing and distributing assets.


However, in the state of Florida joint wills are not recognized. Instead, individuals turn to a closely related alternative: mirror image wills or mirror wills.


A joint will is a single legal document signed by two people, typically spouses, which combines their wishes regarding the distribution of their estate after their passing.


This concept appeals to many for its perceived simplicity and mutual assurance. However, Florida law does not recognize joint wills, so you need a different approach for couples or partners who wish to coordinate their estate planning. This is where mirror wills come into play.


Mirror wills, though separate documents for each individual, reflect similar or identical terms and conditions, effectively mirroring each other’s wishes concerning asset distribution, guardianship appointments, and other critical estate planning elements.


William C. Roof is a Florida estate planning lawyer who will work to understands the unique needs couples face when looking to coordinate their plans.


This article will explore joint wills and the benefits of consulting a joint will attorney.


Secure your future together and contact William C. Roof to ensure your legacy is protected and your wishes are legally preserved.

Don’t wait. Safeguard your family’s tomorrow by contacting us today.


What Is a Joint Will?

A joint will, often called a mutual will, is a legal estate planning document specially designed for couples — typically married couples or domestic partners — to reinforce their shared testamentary wishes about the distribution of their estate upon their death into a legal document.


Unlike separate wills, a joint will reflect the mutual agreement of both parties regarding the distribution of their assets after their passing. It often outlines shared assets, inheritors, and specific bequests. To assemble all of that into a comprehensive will, hiring a joint will attorney is often the easiest and most convenient option.


What distinguishes a joint will is its binding nature, meaning that once one partner passes away, the will becomes irrevocable for the surviving spouse. While they simplify estate planning, joint wills also require careful consideration because altering them later can be complex, making them best for couples with clear and stable wishes.



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How a Joint Will Works

The way a joint will works is quite similar to any separate will: The will becomes active upon the passing of an individual or, in this case, individuals. The most significant difference a joint will holds is that two or more people are responsible for drafting it.


There should be mutual consent between the parties on the terms and beneficiaries outlined in the document. And both must sign the will voluntarily.

The final draft includes a binding plan for the distribution of assets and ensures that the intentions of both individuals are carried out as specified.


If one will spouse dies, all of the assets are typically passed to the remaining will partner or the second spouse. And when the surviving partner or spouse passes away, the estate is distributed among the beneficiaries per the shared wishes of the now-deceased couple. Usually, joint wills for married couples have their children or grandchildren as beneficiaries.


When the first spouse or partner passes away, the joint will becomes irrevocable and is not subjected to changes.


A joint will is subjected to a probate process when the remaining person dies. Under the probate process, a state’s probate court will estimate the estate’s worth, ask for any remaining debts to be paid, and then distribute the remaining assets among the beneficiaries according to the testaments in a joint will.



Creating a Joint Will

Creating joint wills is a complex legal process that requires careful consideration and expert guidance. To ensure your joint will is valid and legally sound, it’s essential to seek the assistance of a joint will attorney.


To create a joint will, the initial step is to sit with your spouse and discuss your assets, debts, and beneficiaries. Get a clear idea as to what assets will be going to your loved ones, family, or charity. Secondly, clear any pending debts or plan on how you’ll settle them before your estate gets inherited by the beneficiaries.


Discuss the same with your estate planning attorney, and then they may start working on drafting a joint will for you. To be extra conscious of the untold future, you can include a power of attorney (POA). This single document gives a person the legal authority to act on your behalf if you’re incapable of doing so.


Ideally with the assistance of a joint will lawyer, go through the final draft of the will and make any changes if needed to avoid any potential problems in the future. Then, get it officially signed in the presence of two witnesses. Make sure the witnesses sign the will as well to state that they saw you and your partner signing it with mutual agreement. Revise the will in cases when your circumstances change.



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Challenges That May Arise With Joint Wills

While joint wills can be a practical estate planning option for some couples, they also come with certain challenges:


Joint wills are often more complex than individual wills because they require both partners to agree on all provisions. This complexity can lead to confusion or disputes.

Highly Irrevocable

A joint will often becomes irrevocable for the surviving spouse after the first one passes away. This can limit the flexibility to make changes if circumstances or wishes evolve.

Changing Relationships

Life is unpredictable, and couples may separate or divorce. In such cases, a joint will becomes problematic, as it’s based on the assumption of a continuing, supportive relationship.


Disputes may arise between the beneficiaries, and they may raise objections to the terms of the joint will. This commonly happens when partners are no longer with each other.

Benefits of Joint Wills

Joint wills offer several benefits for couples looking to streamline their estate planning:


Creating a joint will can be more cost-effective than drafting individual wills, as it typically involves a single legal process. It can save not only money but also time and effort as both partners agree to the terms of the will.


Joint wills allow both partners to express their wishes in a single document, ensuring a comprehensive and unified approach to estate planning. Managing a joint will is often more straightforward than maintaining separate wills, as it reduces paperwork and administrative tasks.

Peace of Mind

Couples often find comfort in knowing that their shared desires and commitments are legally documented, providing peace of mind for themselves and their loved ones.

Frequently Asked Questions About Joint Wills

What Is A Joint Will?

A joint will is an estate planning tool for couples, typically spouses, to combine their estate wishes into one comprehensive will, outlining how their assets will be distributed upon their passing.

Can You Update A Joint Will?

Yes, you can update a joint will. However, updating a joint will can be complex as both partners must agree to make changes. In some cases, such as birth or adoption, change in assets or beneficiary matters, or divorce, it may be necessary to revoke the existing joint will and create separate wills or a new joint will with updated terms.

What Are the Requirements for Joint Wills?

The typical requirements for joint wills are mutual agreement, partners being adults, sound minds, clear documents, and witnesses.

How Can Joint Wills Be Revoked?

Joint wills can be revoked only when both partners are in mutual agreement, but a joint will becomes irrevocable for the surviving partner if one partner passes away.

What Are the Alternatives to Joint Wills?

Alternatives to a joint will include creating separate wills, living trusts, mirror wills, life insurance policies, etc.


Are Joint Wills Valid in Florida?

No, joint wills are not valid instruments in Florida. Instead, spouses and partners often turn to mirror wills as well as the other alternative instruments mentioned in this article.

Are you and your loved one interested in a Joint Will?

Contact attorney William C. Roof today for a consultation to learn what options you and your loved one share together in order to get an estate planning structure to match your wishes.


The contents of this article are not comprehensive, they provide only a general overview of the subject matter discussed. This article does not establish a client-attorney relationship with the reader, and no legal decisions should be made based on the article’s contents. Because every legal matter arises under unique facts specific to the client, no legal decision should be made without consulting a licensed attorney.

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