artI think most lawyers in Louisiana run into this problem: husband and wife want to do a “joint” will leaving everything to each other. When they are told they cannot do a joint will, they become suspicious that perhaps the lawyer is just trying to inflate the price by charging for two wills instead of a single, joint will.

As a practical matter,
a joint willwould not make sense anyway.What if one party wanted to revoke the will but other did not?What happens in a divorce situation?What if either wanted to exclude a child who has fallen in disfavor, but the other does not? The problems with having a joint will are obvious. Anyway, a new case clarifies how terribly wrong things can get when a couple attempts to have a joint will.

Mr. and Mrs. “K” did a joint will leaving everything to each other. The will also revoked all prior wills the couple had done. When Mrs. K died, the court found that the will was totally invalid. To make things worse, the court also found that although the document did not qualify as a will, it did qualify as an authentic act which was sufficient to revoke all the couple’s prior wills. So, there was no will at all and the succession proceeded as an intestate succession.

In Louisiana, a spouse receives nothing from the estate of a deceased spouse if the couple has children and there is no will saying otherwise. It was not thought that Mr. and Mrs. K had any living children which would mean that Mr. K would inherit despite the invalid will, but that is when things got even worse. It turned out that a deceased child of Mr. and Mrs. K had acknowledged an illegitimate son, so now a grandchild of the deceased suddenly comes into the picture.

Because of the attempt to create a joint will, the clear intent of Mr. and Mrs. K to leave everything to each other never came to pass. Instead, and unknown grandchild inherited all of the estate.