Mutual Wills are different to Mirror Wills. Most couples who have made their Wills together, will have Mirror Wills. Mirror Wills are so named because they reflect each other (for example, on the first death everything passes to the survivor and on the second death, everything passes to your children). Mutual Wills, however, are a different concept and as family situations are increasingly more diverse and complex, are becoming more relevant and popular
So, what are Mutual Wills? Mutual Wills are wills made by two (or more) individuals who agree not to revoke their Wills without the consent of the other. Whilst both parties are alive and have sufficient capacity, they can remake their Wills together as often as they wish, however, once one party has died or lost capacity, the Wills cannot be revoked or changed. On the death or incapacity of the first individual the Will, in effect, crystallises.
What is the benefit of Mutual Wills? The benefit of Mutual Wills is that the surviving partner cannot disinherit the intended Will beneficiary (ies). Mutual Wills therefore provide reassurance and a guarantee to individuals making Wills that their beneficiaries (for example, their children), will not be removed after their death, and provided there is sufficient value in the estate, are guaranteed to receive something.
What are the disadvantages of Mutual Wills? You are sacrificing flexibility for certainty. The situation of the beneficiary may have changed (for example, divorce or bankruptcy) and the survivor may wish to take account for this in their Will but cannot. Alternatively, the relationship between the individual and beneficiary may have broken down and the individual may wish therefore to reduce the beneficiary’s entitlement or even remove them from their Will; once again, because they have made a Mutual Will, they will not be able to do this.
Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? This is something that you will need to decide and will be specific to your circumstances.
Would they suitable for your situation? These types of Wills are often suitable where individuals have remarried and have children from a previous relationship that they wish to ensure benefit from their estate, but also wish to provide for their current partner or spouse. If you would like further information, please contact either Georgia Evans or Christopher Beames on 02920 345 511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.