Reciprocal Wills

WHAT ARE RECIPROCAL WILLS?

In general, a will is a document that distributes a deceased person’s property to their relatives and loved ones. It is a way for the deceased to carry out their wishes once they are no longer with us. Reciprocal wills are two separate wills with parallel dispositive plans. Explained another way, reciprocal wills are two separate wills that are mirror images of each other.

WHY USE RECIPROCAL WILLS?

Reciprocal wills can make estate planning simple and easy. These wills are often called “sweetheart wills” because they are generally used by married couples. Reciprocal wills are suited for those individuals who are leaving the majority of their estate, or property to the other person.

Examples of reciprocal wills are:

Wife’s will: “I leave all my property to [Name], my husband. If my husband does not survive me, then I leave my property to my children.

Husband’s will: “I leave all my property to [Name], my wife. If my wife does not survive me, then I leave my property to my children.

These simple wills are best suited for those individuals with basic personal relationships. Although this type of will can take the hassle out of estate planning, it is not suitable for every marital situation.

WHEN NOT TO USE RECIPROCAL WILLS

Reciprocal wills are not suitable for every married couple. Many individuals have been previously married, and have children as a result of those marriages. Also, many individuals were married later in life, and therefore have individual property and assets coming into the marriage. Finally, many couples may not have children at all, and cannot agree on whom to leave their property to in the event of neither spouse surviving the other. Reciprocal wills would not be the best fit for these couples because these simplistic wills would not adequately distribute their property.

For example, most individuals prefer to include their children in their wills. However, if you have children from a previous marriage, using a reciprocal will would only include the children from your current marriage, and it would leave out any children from previous marriages. Furthermore, if you and your spouse cannot agree on whom to leave your property to in the event of both of your deaths in a common disaster, a reciprocal will should not be the choice for you.

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

When undertaking a task as important as drafting a will, it is imperative that all your bases are covered, and your true intent is carried out. Hiring a professional to advise you on the best options for your estate can prevent problems from arising in the future. A professional will also make certain that all of the will formalities required by Texas law are met so your will is not declared to be invalid years down the road.

If you or a loved is thinking about drafting a will, the attorneys at Guest and Gray Law Firm can help. We are located in old downtown Forney across from City Hall. The lawyers of Guest and Gray Law Firm have decades of combined Kaufman County experience. We proudly serve all of Kaufman County, including Forney, Terrell, Kaufman, Crandall, Mesquite, Mabank and Scurry-Rosser.