Do I need a will if everything is jointly owned? - AgingCare.com

Do I need a will if everything is jointly owned?

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Also what about personal items such as guns, jewelery, etc. Do I need a will if everything is jointly owned?

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I'm gonna differ in opinion. I believe if you're asking from strictly a legal standpoint- then no, if absolutely everything is in both your names AND the accounts have "rights of survivorship" stipulations - a will is not necessary. However- and this is a huge however - if there are others in your life - children, siblings etc who think they are entitled or deserving - not having a will could leave the door open to challenge what your intentions really were. It's unlikely any challenge would be successful - with joint ownership of accounts having survivorship- but things could get all mucked up and bogged down. It really is safer to have at least a basic will, leaving everything to your spouse.

As far as the stuff goes - I agree that giving it to whomever while you're still alive is the best way to ensure that the item ends up where you want it to be. But - that deprives you of enjoying it for the time you have left. A letter attached to your will could help with this or some even mark an item with the name of the person they want to have it. Of course this relies on people behaving like civilized human being - which often goes out the window as greed comes in the front door.

But back to the will. For some mysterious reason my father went and took all his important papers - including his will - from his safety deposit box a few months before he passed. We never did find it. Luckily my parents held everything jointly so transferring everything to my mothers name only went smoothly enough. There was one account that was a problem- it did not have survivorship rights. Since the courts only accept the original will - copies are invalid - we had to file "a small estate with no will" - as everything else had already been transferred to my mom, the estate only consisted of this one account. It took months AND a lawyer to get this account resolved. Yes, a will certainly would have come in handy at that point.
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CountryMouse is right. Husbands and wives usually do wills leaving everything to the other spouse if the spouse is alive. If they aren't, the will is used to divide things among the other heirs. It is a handy way to do wills, since it doesn't have to be changed if one of the couple dies.
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Yes you do. You can do mirror wills, each leaving everything to the other, plus any additional instructions you might want to consider. It really is best to get an attorney to do this for you properly.

What about personal items? You can append a letter of wishes to your will specifying bequests, if that's the sort of thing you mean. But if you want to be absolutely certain, it's better to give things to individual people while you're fit and well. No errors or arguments that way.
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