As the end of the year approaches, many people are trying to wrap up loose ends from 2018. We all tend to begin the year with lofty goals and ideals. Some of the most organized people I know write out extensive lists for the new year. I’ve got my trusty Bullet Journal with me as I do my year-end planning. One item that is often on your list is to finally get your will prepared. It’s probably been sitting there since January, staring you in the face each month. Some people have a reminder on their calendar. But they spent all year deferring it or extending its due date. With the end of the year fast approaching, it’s an easy thing to get knocked off your list.
In a meeting last week, a client and I discussed whether her will had to match her husband’s. They both had “Get a Will” on their to-do list for the year. Since they were both coming in, they thought they were just each getting the same will.
Does My Will Have to Match my Partner’s?
The simple answer is: No. Your will is your will. It can say whatever you want it to say and does not have to match your partner’s. Now, when it comes to things like guardianship of children it often makes sense to have those provisions of your will be similar, if not identical. That way if you and your partner die at the same time, the issue of guardianship of the children is easily figured out.
But there are many other provisions of a will that may be different. It is common for people leaving charitable gifts to have different recipients. For example, if you and your partner went to different colleges, you may each want to leave a gift to the college you attended. Also, if you are part of a blended family, you may not want to leave anything to your partner’s prior family. You may enjoy your step kids, but have no interest in them receiving anything from your estate.
Just because you are doing your wills at the same time, and using the same attorney, doesn’t mean that they need to match each other.