It is often convenient for people who are married, in state registered domestic partnerships, or otherwise in long-term committed relationships to work together with their spouse, domestic partner, or significant other on preparing their wills and other aspects of their estate plan. There is, however, no requirement that they do so; each person is free to prepare their own estate plan documents.
There are many benefits of coordinating the preparation of estate plan documents with your spouse or significant other, perhaps the most important of which is talking through your intentions and reaching an understanding of each other’s wishes and expectations. Coordination is also helpful to ensure you and your spouse or significant other have not made inconsistent gifts of specific items of community property, inconsistent appointments of guardians or custodians for minor children, or other inconsistent choices that are likely to lead to difficulties in carrying out your wishes.
For those who wish to coordinate the preparation of their basic estate plan with their spouse, domestic partner, or significant other, we recommend preparing mirror wills. Mirror wills are often used as wills for couples.
A person who chooses not to coordinate estate planning with his or her spouse or domestic partner should be careful to consider how community property will be distributed, the family support rights of a surviving spouse, and the effects of omitting a spouse, domestic partner, or child from a will.