Joint wills are valid in New York. That said, are they the best estate planning tool for a couple to utilize? Ultimately that decision is the couple’s decision to make. One problem with a joint will is the lasting, binding effect on the surviving spouse.
A joint will is a contract not to revoke that will. Putting that in context, imagine if a couple enters into a joint will, and one dies decades before the other. The surviving spouse cannot change the terms of that joint will, even though the circumstances or his or her life may have changed dramatically.
The problem with a joint will is that it impacts both parties’ ability to modify the will at a later date. A will is a document intended to make provisions for future events.
Who knows what the future holds? By entering into a joint will, a spouse is depriving the surviving spouse’s ability to change that will no matter what the future holds.
If a deceased spouse is not alive to approve a modification or new will, the surviving spouse will probably have to take steps to invalidate the joint will or be bound by it irrespective of the changes in his or her life.