As the incidence of blended families becomes increasingly common, the importance of making consideration for this in estate planning grows too. Blended families are expressed as one or both spouses/domestic partners (“spouses”) with children from pre-existing relationships, if this applies to you, or someone you know a mutual will may be in order.
A mutual will is essentially a contract to make a will, thus creating a binding agreement between spouses. Mutual wills occur when both parties consent to leave their estate to their surviving spouse, ensuring that all beneficiaries (usually a child or children of both parties, including those from previous relationships) receive a division of the estate property.
Mutual wills can be either verbal or in writing. Obviously a written agreement to have mutual wills is preferred so that there is no dispute.
A spouse who has made a mutual will cannot revoke it or change the beneficiaries or proportions without the consent of their spouse. This means no substantial changes can be made to a mutual will after the death of the first spouse. Divorce will release a party from any obligation under an agreement for mutual wills.
It is essential that you let your children know if you have made mutual wills as they are the ones who will enforce the agreement if your spouse does not honour the agreement.
The doctrine of mutual wills is complex and involves both contract law and equity; therefore it is essential to source experienced and adept advice from a legal professional. At Greenhalgh Pickard Solicitors and Accountants we are able to deliver the utmost professionalism in regards to arranging your mutual will.
If you have any questions about mutual wills or would like to book an appointment to speak to one of our expert Estate Solicitors, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org