To create a husband-and-wife will, it is highly recommended by both the AARP and ExpertBeacon that an experienced attorney be utilized for estate planning. This is not a requirement, but ensuring the legal validity of the document is paramount, regardless of who prepares it. The second-most important item when creating a will is checking states laws.
A husband-and-wife will is also known as a joint or mutual will and testament. Due to the complexity of legal issues such as defining ownership and of some states not recognizing joint wills, an attorney is best suited for the task of creating these types of wills. If an attorney is not an option, AARP advises looking into the many do-it-yourself kits available, such as will-writing guidebooks that are available in bookstores or local libraries.
Joint wills are generally advised against because spouses probably won't die simultaneously; property that is not jointly held could exist; the children and spouses from previous relationships are not addressed; and the will stays in effect until the second person dies. For instance, a surviving spouse cannot sell joint property while alive, even if it is to raise money for a child in need. This is one of many issues that make joint wills a problem, according to Sun Life Financial. To remedy this, spouses are encouraged to create separate wills. Individual wills enable the creation of wills that may be fairly similar to each other, but without the legal hassles of a joint will.