Could a Mutual Will be Right for you?
What is a Mutual Will?
A mutual will is when two people agree to signing wills pursuant to a contract between them. This contract outlines that the two people (usually domestic partners or spouses) agree to make their wills as they have agreed together and agree that they won’t alter, change or revoke those wills during their lifetimes or after the death of one of them.
These types of wills are often applied to and prove highly effective for blended families (ie where the couple bring children of another relationship into a new relationship). Mutual wills can ensure that if the child’s parent dies, their new partner is bound to carry out the deceased’s parent’s wishes, usually giving some of the assets of the estate to that child. Consider the example below.
Julie and Mark have recently married. Julie has been divorced and has two children from her previous marriage, James and Jack. Mark has not been married before and has no children. If Julie dies, she wants everything to go to Mark, however, after Mark dies, she wants her assets to be given to her children. Mark agrees to this at the time of writing their wills and drafts his will to also reflect these wishes.
Without a mutual will agreement, after Julie’s death, Mark changes his mind and changes his will to give his assets, including the assets he has inherited from Julie’s estate, to his brother, Michael. James and Jack will therefore receive nothing of their mother’s estate. However, if a mutual will was in place, after Julie’s death Mark could not change his will: his estate would be carried out as was agreed, meaning that James and Jack will ultimately benefit from their mother’s estate.
Advantages and Disadvantages
There are a range of advantages and disadvantages to mutual wills.
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This article is general in nature. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be taken as such.