On August 10, 2010, the Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, determined that a third-party beneficiary is entitled to enforce a contract embedded in a mutual will before the death of the surviving spouse.
Dorothy's transfer of funds from the sale of her home into three accounts held in joint tenancy with Thomas violated the contract embedded in her mutual will with Robert.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals held that Helen's second will was valid, because the mutual will placed no contractual obligation on her to refrain from executing a new will; see Est.
In an earlier case, the North Carolina Supreme Court recognized the general principle that a mutual will may be revoked, unless made in pursuance of a contract.
While a regular feature of civil law, the mutual will
was unknown to English law until this case.
But its first clear acceptance, and of mutual will
at that, appears in the records of those quintessentially "urban (middle-class)" Jews of the eighth and ninth centuries, the Karaites, a product of what has been called the Judaeo-Islamic symbiosis at the height of its medieval flowering.
For example, the Dutch abandoned the use of the mutual will
(which was written jointly by both spouses) by the 1690s, but Dutch men continued to use their legal prerogatives under the common law to ensure their widow's authority over the family estate and postpone their children's inheritance until her death.
Equally, if an agreement not to revoke the wills was essential, the revocation of a mutual will
and the subsequent execution of another will largely in conformity with the agreement for mutual wills
or the revocation of the will(s) by operation of law upon remarriage, would constitute a breach of the mutual wills
Denny's son took the matter to the Court of Appeal who found that Laura and Denny's agreement made their wills Mutual Wills
and it would be unfair to allow Laura to change her will after Denny's death.
Particular issues for seniors include reviewing a will regularly to ensure beneficiaries still survive, exploring options for trusts for grandchildren, and properly managing later life relationships: life estates and mutual wills
may be appropriate options.
The elderly couple had made mutual wills
appointing the other as sole executor to their assets.
They executed mutual wills
, both of which provided that, if a disclaimer was made by the decedent, the disclaimed portion of the estate would go into a trust.